In The News: April 7, 2011

CPSC: Water Walking Balls Pose Deadly Danger

Photo of a woman in a water walking ball The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is urging consumers to stop participating in a new type of water-related recreational activity, due to the potential risks of suffocation and drowning. The activity is called water walking and the water walking ball has numerous brand or ride names.

The fact that the product has no emergency exit and can be opened only by a person outside of the ball significantly heightens the risk of injury or death when a person inside the ball experiences distress. Pre-existing medical conditions, such as heart, lung or breathing issues, can be made worse by use of the product, according to the CPSC.

Here's how the balls work: A person climbs into the large, see-through plastic ball; it is inflated with a blower through the zipper opening; and the zipper is closed, making the ball air-tight. The ball, with the person locked inside, then rolls around on a number of surfaces, including water. The product is most commonly used by children, mainly as a ride in amusement parks, carnivals, malls, sporting events and other high-traffic areas. The product is also sold directly to the public for personal use.

Several states have banned or refused to provide permits for rides that use this product. CPSC is aware of two incidents involving this product. In one incident, a child was found unresponsive after being inside the ball for a very brief period of time, and emergency medical treatment was sought. In the second incident, a person inside of a ball suffered a fracture when the ball fell out of the shallow, aboveground pool onto the hard ground.

CPSC is warning consumers that there is a combination of risks associated with this product, including the potential for suffocation, as well as the potential for drowning and impact injuries. Because the ball is airtight, an inadequate air supply can result when oxygen is depleted and carbon dioxide accumulates inside the ball. Such a dangerous scenario can occur in as little as a few minutes. Because the water walking balls have no padding, impact injuries can occur if the balls collide with each other, or fall out of the pool onto concrete or other hard surfaces, such as ice or tile. Additionally, the balls present a high risk of drowning if there is a leak or a puncture.

Personnel Announcements

Manufacturers

BioLab has promoted Joe DeFuria to Marketing Manager — Pro Brands. DeFuria has been with BioLab for 10 years, most recently serving as district sales manager. He brings his sales and field expertise to the marketing team to focus on both the SpaGuard and BioGuard brands. Claudio Azurmendi has joined the Technical Services team at BioLab as an analyst. He has been with the company since 2009 serving as a technical solutions specialist in the customer care department.

SeaKlear has promoted Greg Hollman to category manager of recreational water. Previously the company's regional sales manager for the East Coast, Hollman is now responsible for managing SeaKlear's inside sales department as well as managing the company's marketing efforts for the Recreational Water Division, including both product branding and the strategic direction of new product development.

Meyco Products has hired Christine Holmes to head its marketing and branding efforts. Holmes brings more than 10 years of experience to Meyco's management team and will be responsible for the development and execution of all marketing, promotional and branding efforts. She will oversee all marketing initiatives to develop new dealer and customer-oriented programs.

Associations

The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals has named Lisa Scholik Grepps to the new position of director, marketing and communications. Grepps brings to APSP nearly 20 years of experience in the marketing and communications field. Prior to joining the association, she owned her own consultancy and specialized in marketing and brand management for associations, nonprofits and corporations.

Leslie's Opens New Retail Stores

Hayward Pool Products logoLeslie's Poolmart, the nation's leading retailer of swimming pool supplies and related products, will host grand openings for nine new stores on April 8.

"Leslie's is proud to be opening new store locations this year to serve our customers and add jobs throughout the country," said CEO Larry Hayward. "Our new stores will offer customers an expansive selection of swimming pool supplies, pool equipment and recreational items.

The new store locations are in Summerville, S.C.; Chesapeake, Va.; Oakland, N.J.; Broken Arrow, Okla.; Ft. Smith, Ark.; El Paso and San Antonio, Texas; and Cary and Wilmington, N.C.

Founded in 1963, Leslie's markets its products through over 660 retail store locations in 35 states; a nationwide mail-order catalog; and an Internet e-commerce site, www.lesliespool.com.

Spa Dealer Reveals Secrets To His Success

Photo of Norm Coburn Norm Coburn is the owner of New England Spas in Natick, Mass. AQUA recently called him to ask about one of the secrets to his considerable success — his well-trained sales team.

"Everybody in my company is a spa salesperson. The service techs hand out brochures when they're filling their trucks with gas. They identify old clunker spas that need to get replaced and advise the homeowner accordingly if there's an expensive repair bill looming ahead."

Read the rest of "According To Coburn."

Go Digital With AQUA

Go digital with AQUA and view current and past issues online at www.aquamagazine.com/magazine. Interactive pages and a table of contents allow you to jump to the article of your choice, e-mail articles along to friends and co-workers and so much more.

Be sure to check out the April issue for a look at the hot tub market outside the United States, tips on setting up a water-testing lab and a look at how automatic pool cleaners help both service techs and customers alike.

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