BOSTON (CBS) — The Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety is issuing a stern warning against water balls after a 5-year-old girl nearly died in one at the Independence Mall in Kingston last month.

“I am deeply concerned about the inherent safety risks associated with these devices,” said Commissioner Thomas Gatzunis. “I want to make sure that people understand there is a potential threat to anyone who chooses to get inside one of these sealed devices, particularly for young children.”

WBZ-TV’s Kate Merrill reports.

Water balls are a popular attraction at local carnivals and inside malls; they entered the U.S. market last summer, after years of popularity in Europe.  Children climb inside of a large inflatable ball, which is blown up and sealed. They are then able to walk on water, inside the inflated ball.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Safety is strongly recommending that consumers stay away from the devices, while it works with state lawmakers to ban their use in the Commonwealth. Currently, the department has no regulatory authority over water balls.

The water ball attraction inside the Independence Mall remains shut down.

Simon Malls, which operates Eurobubble water balls in several of its malls, indicated they have no immediate plans to discontinue their use. Spokeswoman Laurel Sibert said safety has been reviewed and the proper permits are in place.

WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano checks out Water Balls at a local mall.

Comments (15)
  1. charles Jones says:

    Water ballls are very safe , there are hours worth of air inside a water ball .
    Hours not minutes. People do not get wet inside the ball , so where is the problem , who is this person , names please, who state that these devices are not safe ?
    I have used them for 13 years , they are the safest product for use by the public on water . Charles Jones , inventor of the water ball

    1. Maureen says:

      The only way to really know if these balls are safe would be to have them tested through independent labs with sound evidence based medical and scientific reasoning. Also, input from a Pediatric Pulmonologist would be of importance. The balls enclose a child in plastic. The children are moving quickly and using lots of air/oxygen and exhaling. This can alter the gases inside the ball. How much the child is affected depends on a lot of different variables (activity, weight, etc). It just goes against common sense to put any child in a sealed plastic ball and let them run around using up lots of oxygen.

  2. Ellen says:

    I don’t know they look dangerous to me.

  3. Patrick says:

    I wanted to have one handy for 2012, when the tsunami comes

  4. emom says:

    Didnt this kid have a prior health issue, If so she and her mother took a risk.. sure there is always a risk with rides, but if you have a health issue WHY THE HECK WOULD YOU EVEN THINK ABOUT GOING ON THEM ,,,,,, think of this ride being on a trampoline,,,,, wouldnt you be tired , I think so….

    1. Reply to emom says:

      The child DID NOT HAVE A PRIOR HEALTH ISSUE. Please watch the news more carefully. These balls should be tested by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. They are dangerous.

  5. Donna says:

    Parents tell their kids not to put plastic bags, etc., over their heads, but they will put them in a plastic ball! Where are their brains?

  6. Jeff Kingston says:

    Why o Why does some state agency feel they need to legislate every single aspect of daily life. Force these places to post warnings and make sure parents are not in a coma when they allow their kids in. If we had the enjoy life police around 250 years ago, we’d still be running steam engines. Let’s get these guys and the idea police, and the word police the heck out of our lives, once and for all.

  7. Jdalco says:

    Ah yes, good old MA – they LOOIK dagerous so lets ban them. . . Come on folks get over it. The state has plenty of better things to worry about like jobs, economy, the unemployed, high taxes . . . . why are we waisting time on this BS There is plenty of air in there for hours, no problem for the few minutes kids are in them SUPERVISED! Grow up people and stop letting fear and the state run your life for you!

  8. really this is an issue??? says:

    Glad this is such a hot issue.
    If only the gov. workd on cutting expenses and balancing budgets as qucikly as they do to eliminate our rights to choose.

    Big brother always knows what is best for us.

  9. Christopher says:

    The child did have a medical condition stated by the Deputy Fire Chief Marc Douglass. The water ball was not at fault. Several million children around the world have enjoyed this attraction for years. The balls have been greatly improved and are completely safe. The children are only in the balls for approximately 5 minutes. Due to the large size of the ball you would first begin to hyperventilate and experience discomfort after 20 minutes, it would take at least an hour before you would experience signs of suffocation. As usual the media thrives on negativity, and the government tries to distract us with nonsense while they should be concerned about the cutbacks in our school system, etc. I’m absolutely shocked that such an incident is getting negative feedback by Commissioner Thomas Gatzunis when our economy is in such shambles. We should be focused on real issues and problems and look for solutions, not bans or shutdowns on the working class.

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