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Old    Jeff Baker (innov8)      Join Date: May 2005       07-02-2006, 11:05 AM Reply   
Tube Kiting Safety Alert
Just before the holiday weekend, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a safety warning about the new but increasingly popular water sport of tube kiting--in which a person flies across water in a large inflatable tube (sometimes 10 feet or more in diameter) that is drawn by a boat traveling between 25 and 35 miles per hour. (You can see how this works by watching some of the videos at YouTube.com--and you have to admit it does look like a lot of fun.)

But the agency says tube kiting is "extremely dangerous." The agency said it knows of at least two deaths associated with tube kiting this year and 12 serious injuries, including a broken neck, punctured lung, broken ribs, broken femur, chest and back injuries and facial injuries.

The CPSC said it is investigating two versions of kite tubes to see if there is a significant product hazard. That's a very unusual admission for the agency which usually doesn't announce its investigations until they are completed. But spokeswoman Julie Vallese said the agency believed that it needed to issue its alert "in advance of the holiday weekend when people are out in water" and may be tempted to use this product.

According to the CPSC, the injuries may occur from the rider's difficulty in controlling the tube, the boat operator's inexperience and the reaction of the tube in certain weather conditions. The agency is particularly concerned about wind gusts that can cause the tube to spin out of control, or sudden slowing or stopping by the boat operator which can cause the tube to nose dive into the water. "In some cases, the sudden stopping of the boat might cause the tube rider to continue past the boat and hit it or other boats or stationary objects, such as a bridge."

While there are warning labels on the products, most of these are for the boat operator. The ones for the riders are more limited, such as: "Only go as high as you're willing to fall."

Tube kites, mostly triangular in shape, were first sold in 2003. In 2005, the Wego Kite Tube--a 10-foot diameter model made by SportsStuff that sells for about $600--was introduced. Most of the accidents the CPSC is investigating have occurred in the past year.

The tubes have been banned in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which includes Lake Powell, where there have been at least four serious injuries.

Michael Beckelman, an attorney for SportsStuff, said the company believes all of its products are safe if they are used responsibly and in accordance with the provided instructions. He said the company declined to comment specifically on the CPSC investigation.
Old    Jeff Baker (innov8)      Join Date: May 2005       07-02-2006, 11:06 AM Reply   
Gliding 10 feet or more above the water as they're towed by zipping speedboats, kite tubes resemble nothing so much as flying pizzas or goofy, oversized Frisbees. They're the hottest item in extreme water sports, and the Web is filled with their praises and with breathtaking videos of the manned kites in awkward flight.

But just days before July Fourth frolics are to commence, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a stern warning about possible hazards of the watercraft, noting that tube accidents killed two people one of them in Southeast Texas and seriously injured 12 others.

The agency, which has the power to pull dangerous products off the market, is investigating two versions of the tubes, spokeswoman Julie Vallese said Friday.

"To announce an investigation before it's concluded is very unusual," Vallese said. "I think you have something here that is extremely popular, very new. But it has had a number of injuries and deaths in a short time, and there's a responsibility to alert the public that there's a risk."

Nationally, the use of kite tubes has been banned at some U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-controlled lakes, including Lake Texoma in Texas and at the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in on the Utah-Arizona border.

Officers assigned to patrol area lakes reported they have seen few of the kite tubes, so far.

The first known fatality was James Freeland, a 33-year-old Orange man who died after he fell from his kite tube as it was towed at about 32 mph on the Neches River near the Intracoastal Canal.

Newly Hunt, a friend of the accident victim, said he was following the kite tube in his own boat when a gust of wind knocked the 10-foot-diameter tube off-center.

"I don't know if he jumped or was thrown," Hunt said. "The wind just about turned it over. We pulled him from the water it took several of us to do it. He was unconscious."

Freeland, owner of a construction company in Orange and the father of two young children, died of his injuries April 30 at a Port Arthur Hospital. Hunt said Freeland had owned the kite tube about a week, and the accident occurred on his third ascent.

"He had been up for about three minutes," Hunt said.

Alfonso Campos, chief of marine enforcement for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, said a second serious accident occurred June 3 on Lake Conroe.

In that case, Campos said, the victim suffered a concussion when a blast of wind overturned the tube.

"We're not getting many reports, but one is too many."

Vallese said airborne kite tubes can be difficult to control.

"The tubes can spin, making it more difficult. The experience of a boat operator is extremely important because sudden slowing or stopping can cause the risk to increase," she said.

On June 26, a Wisconsin man became the second known person to die in a kite tube accident. Other victims, Vallese said, have suffered a broken neck, punctured lung, broken ribs, broken femur, fractured jaw, and chest and back injuries.

A spokesman for outdoors equipment manufacturer SportsStuff said its Wego kite tube, one of the most popular brands on the market, is safe if used according to directions.

The product, which was named "sports product of the year" by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, comes with an instructional video for safe use.
Old    Jeff Baker (innov8)      Join Date: May 2005       07-02-2006, 11:08 AM Reply   
TULSA, Okla. The U-S Army Corps of Engineers is banning kite tubing at all lakes it controls.

Yesterday's announcement by the Corps comes after a person died last week while kite tubing at a lake in Texas.

Kite tubing is a relatively new take on traditional tubing, in which people ride on large inner tubes while being towed behind speed boats.

In kite tubing, the inner tubes become airborne, reaching heights of 30 feet and speeds of 25 miles per hour.

Officials say if the kite tube goes into an uncontrolled dive, it can hit the water at more than 50 miles per hour and cause serious injury.
Old    Rich (rson)      Join Date: Jun 2002       07-02-2006, 12:30 PM Reply   
Hey I have seen those articles Before...
Old    Jeff Baker (innov8)      Join Date: May 2005       07-02-2006, 12:50 PM Reply   
Ya got them from you Rich.
Old    bad bob (badbob13ftw)      Join Date: Dec 2005       07-02-2006, 9:47 PM Reply   
i just got got from parker ... saw one of them, a 14 / 15 yo doing pretty well on it 10 ft in the air ... but bamm down he went .. looked like a nasty fall... he got back on it and away he went.... not for me ;)
Old    Migitty Matt (migitty)      Join Date: Aug 2001       07-12-2006, 4:32 PM Reply   
They have now been pulled from the market.

http://www.steadywinds.com/archives/category/in-the-news/sportstuff-wego-kite-tube/
Old    David Williams (wakeworld)      Join Date: Jan 1997       07-12-2006, 4:49 PM Reply   
But notice on the left they still have the 4-28 press release naming it the "Sports Product of the Year." :-)

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