May 10, 2012 at 8:58 AM ET
After investigating the death of a 29-year-old woman and severe injuries in two other consumers, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has recalled 21,000 inflatable Banzai in-ground pool water slides.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. and Toys R Us, Inc., have agreed to offer full refunds for the slides that are returned to them.
The CPSC determined that the slides were defective and could deflate suddenly, allowing the user to crash to the ground. The commission also found that the slide is unstable and can topple over in both still and windy conditions.
At the heart of the investigation was the death of Robin Aleo, a Colorado mom who had been visiting relatives in Andover, Mass. During a pool party on July 29, 2006, Aleo, the mother of an 18-month-old girl, climbed to the top of the 6-foot-high Banzai Falls slide and then started sliding down head first, according to a report in the Merrimack Valley Eagle-Tribune.
As Aleo neared the bottom, the slide deflated and she struck her head on the edge of the pool. Her neck was broken and she was paralyzed and unable to breathe, according to the Eagle-Tribune. She died the following day at a Boston hospital.
Aleo’s family sued Toys R Us and a jury returned a $20.6 million verdict after less than an hour of deliberation, the Eagle Tribune reported.
The CPSC also knew of two other cases: a 24-year-old man from Springfield, Mo., who became a quadriplegic and a woman from Allentown, Pa., who fractured her neck after slide deflations.
The recall is for Banzai in-ground pool water slides. The vinyl slides have a blue base, yellow sliding mat and an arch going over the top of the slide. By connecting a hose to the top of the slide, water can be sprayed on its downward slope. The words “Banzai Splash” are printed in a circular blue, orange and white logo that is shaped like a wave and appears on both sides of the slide.
The recalled slides, which were manufactured in China by Manley Toys, Ltd, were sold at Wal-Mart and Toys R Us from January 2005 through June 2009 and were priced around $250. They have a barcode number 2675315734 and a model number 15734. While those numbers both were on the original package, they do not appear on the slides themselves.
While the CPSC began its investigation based on the three incidents, it’s not uncommon for more people to come forward with reports after a recall is announced, said Alex Filip, a spokesman for the CPSC.
“People sometimes attribute failures to poor maintenance or something they did wrong and if they’re not hurt, they may not report it," Filip said.
The CPSC urges consumers to immediately stop using the product and bring it to the nearest Toys R Us or Wal-Mart for a refund. Consumers don’t need to bring the entire pool. They can just cut out the two safety warning notices out of the slide and return those for a refund.
Filip warned people not to be lulled into a false sense of security because their slide hasn’t given them any problems yet.
“You could play on it all day Saturday and then the kids go out on Sunday and get hurt,” he said. “It’s dangerous. You need to do what’s best for your family. Just bring it back and you’ll get your money back.”
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