A warning over a popular Christmas gift

5 January 2017

Consumer Protection is warning owners of inflatable air loungers not to use them in water as they could pose a drowning risk.

The fabric tubes that are inflated to form a lounge or bed have become popular in recent months, with many people receiving them as Christmas gifts.They may also be marketed as air sofas or inflatable furniture under a range of brand names, and are being sold in shopping centre displays, online and from overseas suppliers.

There have been at least two incidents since Christmas in which the lining has split while people have been using these inflatable lounges in a pool, causing the user to become entangled in the material and almost drown.

Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard says consumer agencies throughout Australia have now launched an investigation into the dangers of the product.

“These products, which have been on the market since 2014 and have now become popular items to buy, are mostly used as sun lounges at the beach and at picnics,” Mr Hillyard said.

“However, some people are also using them in the pool, rivers and even the ocean, and there are serious safety concerns when used in that way."

“While some retailers selling this product may suggest they can be used as flotation devices on water, we believe there may be a risk of unexpected deflation and recommend that they are only used on dry land."

“While there have been no incidents reported in WA and we have received no complaints about the safety of these products, the recent near drowning incidents in the eastern states have raised our concern."

Royal Life Saving Society WA's Senior Manager, Health Promotion & Research, Lauren Nimmo says "In light of the recent incidents involving these inflatable loungers our best advise is to urge people not to use them on water. However should you choose to do so we'd advise you to always ensure someone else is present to assist if you get into trouble. Parents allowing children to use these on the water should always be within arms reach of their child to assist if needed."

"We would also encourage people to ensure these loungers are always removed from locations in or around water after use to ensure the temptation is not there for children to be drawn to use them as a flotation device” says Ms Nimmo.

Consumer Protection is urging WA consumers who may have been involved in an incident involving this product to inform them by emailing consumer@commerce.wa.gov.au or calling 1300 30 40 54.