'Keep them out' - Warning that inflatable loungers could be a drowning risk

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Water Safety New Zealand is warning consumers not to use the popular inflatable loungers in the water following a number of incidents in Australia.

Media reports from across the Tasman indicate two people nearly drowned while floating on them in backyard pools on Christmas Day.

"We urge people not to use Air Loungers in the water this summer," WSNZ CEO Jonty Mills said.

"The reports out of Australia indicate some of these products present a potential drowning hazard and should be kept out of pools and not used in the water at our beaches, rivers and lakes," Mr Mills said.

"Many people may have got these as presents for Christmas and there are obviously different types in terms of quality and design. I'm not sure they're designed for the water and it does appear some may have flaws with the lining which present real danger when used in the water. Our advice is to keep them out."

Mills says as a general rule, while inflatable toys can be fun and also can be used to support a child in the water, they are not designed to keep children safe.

"You still need to supervise children at all times and think about whether the product is suitable for the situation."

National lifesaving manager Allan Mundy also advised against using inflatable toys while swimming at the beach.

"Inflatable toys can be very dangerous in the surf as people can get blown out to sea very quickly as the wind changes. When buying such toys, people should always read the instructions and warnings," he says.

If inflatable toys state they're not to be used as a flotation device then they shouldn't be used in the water, he says.

"If it is considered a flotation device then people should still take caution and not use it when there is an offshore wind as they could still be carried out of their depth."

A New Zealand supplier of some inflatable loungers, Show TV, says the Lizard Lounger carries warnings that while it will float on water it is not to be used as a floatation device, and is not for infant or children's use.

Water Safety NZ has advice on life jackets and other water safety devices, and how to keep your kids safe around water at www.watersafety.org.nz

Have you had problems with your inflatable lounger? Email sam.kelway@tvnz.co.nz

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