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water ball safety - Fair amusement ride

Original post made by Fran, Vineyard Avenue, on Jun 24, 2011

I was at the Fair yesterday and it was the first time I had seen one of these Water Ball "rides". It is an airtight inflatable plastic ball into which a person climbs, and then it is zippered up. It floats on water and it was fun to watch the kids inside it (costs $8). However I started wondering about how they got air to breathe and how long one can last on the air that is in there. I did an online search for the safety of these (search for "water ball safety") and discovered that some states have banned them. There is no way to open it up from the inside and there is only about 5 minutes worth of breathable air inside. There have only been a few incidents of problems with kids in them but I would not let my grandkids go into one. Do some research before your kids go to the Fair.

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Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on Jun 25, 2011 at 8:18 am

I saw a video on these water ball rides on YouTube. The air-filled balls appear to be about 6 feet in diameter and are used in a small wading pool with someone standing in the water nearby to lend assistance if needed. I couldn't find any authoritative source for how long air in an enclosed space can be expected to last if breathing it, but I saw a few threads which reported that 80 cubic feet of air can supply a person for one hour (apparently, this is based on scuba tank usage). That's about the volume of a small 4'x2'x10' closet. Now the volume of air in a 6 foot diameter sphere is about 113 cubic feet which, if you believe the 80 cubic feet figure, should be enough air to last over an hour.

I'm not saying that there's no cause for concern because, as you say, there is no easy way to open the balls from inside. But IMHO, in the world of carnival rides involving roller coasters, ferris wheels, spinning chairs being whirled around a central tower, etc., the hazards don't seem to be out-of-line with other rides I see. Personally, I'm a bit uncomfortable with those spinning chair rides and would rather have my young daughter do the water ball ride than go on a spinning chair ride.

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