If you go into a water walking ball you will see that there is no emergency exit, the only way you can get out is when someone outside opens the ball for you. The risk of injury or death when inside the ball is significant if the person becomes distressed, says the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

This new type of recreational activity has become very popular. You go inside a large, transparent ball which floats on water or rolls on grass or ice, as you walk, as a hamster does in its wheel, the ball rolls and you move forward with it.

The authors of a new CPSC report explain that individuals with breathing problems, heart or lung disease, and other pre-existing medical conditions can have seriously worsening symptoms when inside one of these balls.

Walking balls are popular in amusement parks, events, carnivals, and shopping malls. Children love them. You can even buy one for your own family.

Some states are now refusing to provide permits, while others are banning them altogether.

CPSC mentions an incident in which a child was briefly unresponsive while inside one of these products – the child required emergency medical treatment.

Another child used the ball on a shallow, above-ground swimming pool, the ball fell out of it onto hard ground and the child suffered a fracture.

CPSC warns that the following risks are associated with this product:

  • Suffocation – the ball is airtight. As the person inside breaths, oxygen levels drop and CO2 (carbon dioxide) rises. Within a few minutes air quality can pose a serious danger.
  • Drowning – if the ball is on water and has a leak or puncture, it can fill up with water. There is no way for the person to get out without outside help.
  • Impact injuries – the balls have no padding. If the balls collide with each other there is the potential for serious injuries. If the ball hits a hard object there is also a risk of injury.

State amusement ride officials have been told by CPSC that there are serious risks linked to these products. Officials are being urged not to issue permits for these rides in their state.

CPSC believes there is no safe way of using walking balls.

If you wish to report an incident, please visit www.saferproducts.gov. You can also telephone (800) 638-2772.

Source: US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)

Written by Christian Nordqvist