Camp Safety Spotlight: Water Walking Ballsbeing there // on Tuesday July 14, 2015
Going to camp, a kid may have a long list of things they are excited for – friends, fun activities or good memories. When it’s time to leave camp and head home, the last thing you want your campers to leave with are injuries.
It’s up to you to make sure their time at camp is enjoyable and safe, and that starts with your planned activities. Some favorites, such as water balloons, inflatable slides or obstacle courses, also can be the most dangerous, and it’s important to remember safety is more important than the level of fun.
One such potentially dangerous activity is water walking balls, which are inflatable plastic spheres designed to allow a child to “walk on water.” This activity has led to enough serious injuries that the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission published a consumer alert warning users of their dangers.
What are water walking balls?
Commonly found at amusement parks or carnivals, a water walking ball attraction involves large, inflated plastic balls and a body of water, such as a pool. An individual climbs into the ball and is enclosed with a zipper. While the person is inside, they have the ability to roll it throughout the water, or on ice or grass if water is not being used.
What are the dangers of participating in this activity?
The simple design of these figures limits their level of safety. Before using this activity at your camp, consider the dangers:
- The balls do not have an emergency exit, and it can only be opened from the outside, which heightens the risk of injury.
- If there is a leak or puncture in the ball, water may enter the ball and could lead to drowning.
- Because the balls are airtight after the zipper is closed, participants risk suffocation if the oxygen becomes depleted.
- There is a lack of padding in the balls, which limits protection of a child in the event of a collision or the ball falls from a high surface or out of a pool.
- If the balls are being used on open water, boats or other solid objects could hit the participants and cause injury.
With these dangers in mind, it is easy to see the seriousness of the risks and potential injuries. It is for these reasons that a water walking ball attraction is not suggested for organizations to use during camp, festivals, carnivals or other gatherings. You also are encouraged to review other camp activities to ensure a low risk and danger level. A safe and injury-free camp session is much easier on you and a lot more fun for the campers.