WASHINGTON, D.C. — Consumer protection advocates are sounding the alarm about infant location rings that have been associated with death and serious injury.

On Tuesday, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a warning about the risk of drowning with LUMI and MINI infant floating rings sold by Otteroo. The warning also applies to discontinued models of Otteroo infant floatation rings.

These rings are designed to fit around the neck of an infant. The rings are currently sold exclusively on www.otteroo.com. They were previously sold on Zulily.com and Amazon.com.

The warning comes after CPSC evaluation found that the floating rings can deflate during use or storage. So far, the CPSC is aware of 68 incidents where infants slipped through the head opening of the floatation ring, requiring immediate rescue by a caregiver. This includes one case in 2020 that required emergency treatment.

In a SaferProducts.gov report, a healthcare professional reported that the infant was left alone in a bathtub with a baby floatation device on him. When the caregiver returned, they found him submerged in the water.

CPR was performed before the boy was transported to the hospital. There he was intubated and required a treatment to circulate blood through an artificial lung back into his bloodstream.

While that boy survived, the CPSC is aware of another case that resulted in a 6-month-old girl’s death. In a SaferProducts.gov report, a police department representative reported that the girl was left in a bathtub with a LUMI floatation ring around her neck. She slipped out and drowned.

Photo uploaded to the SaferProducts.gov report from the infant death report. (Photo//CPSC)

“New parents are bombarded with advertising claiming that baby products of all kinds will make their lives easier and keep their babies safe,” said CPSC commissioner Richard Trumka. “Parents should know that CPSC does not evaluate those claims, which are often misleading. Neck-floaties for babies are not recommended for water therapy, and are especially dangerous for babies with special needs.”

The CPSC urges people not to buy the Otteroo infant floatation rings. If they have one, they shouldn’t use it. They should throw it away immediately.

The CPSC also says people shouldn’t resell or donate the infant floatation rings so other infants are not put in danger by the hazard. They should report any incidents with the Otteroo infant floatation rings to www.SaferProducts.gov.

Otteroo responded to the CPSC’s warning Tuesday, calling the statement misleading and basing the warning on an impossible standard.

CPSC’s statement is misleading because mere deflation of the Otteroo is not the hazard CPSC claims. Rather, a hazard may arise only if an adult is not closely supervising the infant while they are in Otteroo in the water.

Otteroo response to CPSC statement

In Otteroo’s response, the company said it asks parents to acknowledge during the purchasing process that they must always be right next to their infants when using Otteroo and to check for leaks and fit prior to each use. The company said this message is repeated several times in purchase and shipping confirmation emails, as well as on the instructional pamphlet and float itself.

The company said the CPSC is basing its warning on an impossible standard, that the inflatables must never deflate.

“This position of the CPSC would mean that no inflatables should be used in water with children. Their assertion that only our floats, which are designed with the highest quality materials and safety standards, should not be used because of the risk of deflation is irrational and unfair,” said Tiffany Chiu, founder of Otteroo.

When it comes to the 68 deflation cases, Otteroo says CPSC is misleadingly framing them as rescues. The company said it shows that parents understand the importance of close supervision when using the Otteroo and they should not leave an infant in water alone.

Without the device on the market, Otteroo said it believes there would be a heightened risk to babies by the use of inferior alternatives that are cheaply made and lack proper warnings and instructions. Rather than trying to stop its use, Otteroo is urging that the CPSC recognize the benefits and work to establish safety standards for the product category.

“We believe that instead of shutting down responsible US-based companies and allowing unregulated, overseas products to flourish, we should be educating parents on bath and water safety and setting new standards for the product category,” said Chiu.