A Pakenham woman has warned consumers to take care when using inflatable air lounges, after a near-drowning incident on Christmas Day when her daughter’s inflatable air lounge split in the pool.
Anthea Chester watched in disbelief from the poolside as her 12-year-old daughter Hollie disappeared before her eyes, caught in the lining of the air lounge.
“She was completely encased in the nylon parachute fabric lining. It clung to her body like shrink wrap. It was almost suction-sealed to her face,” Ms Chester said of the horrific ordeal.
“She said she couldn’t see. She was about a metre-and-a-half from the edge of the pool at shoulder height, so I told her to walk towards my voice.
“She had no idea which way was up or down, or where the edge of the pool was.
“It felt like it took ages for my friend and I to take it off her because the material was all waterlogged and heavy. We had to pull it off handful by handful.”
The Now Lounger product had been a Christmas present that the kids were eager to try out in the pool on the 35-degree day.
The company advertised the product as being safe for use on water, but had since added a disclaimer on its website for it to be used on “dry land” only.
“By purchasing or using the Now Lounger, you agree that you are solely responsible for all repercussions of its use,” the disclaimer reads.
“You agree that under no circumstances will Now Lounger be held responsible for injuries, harm or death of using the product.”
Ms Chester said the air lounge, which she purchased online, was delivered in a bag and contained no instructions, warning labels or even a receipt of purchase.
She said that when the air lounge split, Hollie had been sitting on it, floating, not jumping on the lounge or misusing it in any way.
With more than 16 years of experience in working as a paramedic and having witnessed many drowning incidents, Ms Chester said she had never seen anything like this.
“Thank God I was watching her at the time and we were able to untangle her before she drowned,” she said.
“If she had been at the deeper end of the pool, I would have jumped into the pool in a heartbeat and it might have been a different story.
“It had the potential for a real tragedy written all over it.
“I will not be using these anywhere near water again.”
After lodging a complaint to the ACCC, Ms Chester posted her experience on Facebook which has since attracted 19,700 shares and 6900 comments.
In another recent incident, a New South Wales man aged in his seventies experienced a similar scare when sitting on his air lounge in a backyard pool.
“Do not use on water! My dad almost drowned on Christmas Day with our new Now Lounger,” his daughter Julie Kosy posted publicly to the company’s Facebook page.
“It turned inside out, then flipped, encasing him face down in the pool, totally wrapped in liner and suffocating.
“He was thrashing about, fighting for air. It was absolutely terrifying.”
An Australian Competition and Consumer Commission spokesperson said the ACCC had contacted state and territory product safety regulators about safety concerns relating to the Now Lounger product.
“Everyone needs to exercise caution and vigilance when undertaking any water-related activity,” the spokesperson said.
“The ACCC advises that air beds, air couches and similar products should not be used in water-related activities.”
The Gazette contacted Now Lounger but did not receive a response before deadline.
Originally published at Pakenham Gazette.