Water Safety New Zealand is urging Kiwis to keep air loungers on land after reports of two near-drownings in Australia from using the popular Christmas gifts in the water.

In both the Christmas Day Australian incidents, the lounger user nearly drowned when the inflatable lounger malfunctioned on water.

Water Safety chief executive Jonty Mills wasn't aware of such incidents happening in New Zealand, but warned Kiwis of the potential risk of using them on water.

"There will be different designs and different levels of quality, but these reports out of Australia highlight the potential risk of using them on water.


"They seem quite popular at the moment with a lot of people getting them for Christmas. So if you got one, we would advise to keep it on the beach or pool edge, and not use it in the water."

Mills likened the loungers to mermaid tails which were banned from Auckland pools due to safety concerns after they became popular last summer.

"It was the same thing of an item becoming popular which has potential hazards and risks.

"We're focused on drowning prevention so we encourage not using items in the water which exacerbate risk."

As with any activity around water, adults should supervise under-5s around the loungers at all times.

The Australian incidents

Melbourne woman Anthea Chester posted on Facebook that her 12-year-old daughter, Hollie, almost drowned when her lounger malfunctioned.

"The coloured lining split WITHOUT WARNING, engulfing her body whilst the blow up part shot upwards, pushing her under the water.

"She was left engulfed by the fabric which was clinging to her face and entire body like shrink wrap.

"All I can say was thank God I was watching her at the time and was able to untangle her before she drowned."

Another Australian woman, Julie Kosy, said it was "absolutely terrifying" watching her 76-year-old father, Neville, almost drown.

"[The lounger] turned inside out, then flipped, encasing him face down in the pool totally wrapped in liner and suffocating."