The federal government today issued a warning against using water balls, a large walk-in see-through ball that has appeared in recent years at fairs and malls, and has become popular with children. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission cited the danger of suffocation and drowning in the amusements, which are known by many different names.
Massachusetts officials issued a warning in December after a girl briefly stopped breathing after climbing inside one. The federal warning cites two incidents, including one in which the person inside suffered fractures when the ball fell out of the pool it was in.
The CPSC said the contraptions are dangerous because those inside have no way to let themselves out and the contraptions are air-tight and could create breathing difficulties. The safety agency said oxygen depletion from being inside one of the balls could happen within minutes.
“The fact that the product has no emergency exit and can be opened only by a person outside of the ball significantly heightens the risk of injury or death when a person inside the ball experiences distress,” the government said in its warning. “Pre-existing medical conditions, such as heart, lung, or breathing issues, can be made worse by use of this product.”
The balls – which are also used on grass and ice – work by letting the user climb inside and get zipped in from the outside and then inflating the ball with a blower.
The CPSC said some states have acted against the product by either banning them or declining permit applications to use them. And the agency is urging the remaining states to follow suit.
“CPSC does not know of any safe way to use this product,” the warning said.