Many parents wouldn't think twice about grabbing an inflatable toy in a shop along the beach front or on the way to the pool for their kids to play with in the water - it's all part of a holiday.
But many of these toys could be blow-up death traps, the TÜV Rhineland branch said on Tuesday, and urged parents be very careful when buying blow-up toys from discount souvenir shops.
Many toys present an "imminent danger of drowning" the Cologne-based safety said. It tested a range of water toys and baby swim seats bought in popular holiday destinations across Germany, Spain, Italy, Greece, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Of the 50 bathing toys tested - including blow-up animals and inflatable mattresses all bought for under €10 in souvenir and beach shops - 20 did not meet the EU's most basic safety standards and should be immediately taken off the shelves, said the organisation.
Testers also found six highly dangerous swim seats for babies and small children – which could easily either allow children to fall out or capsize.
The devices give parents a false sense of security, said TÜV expert Christiane Reckter, but they posed serious danger of death for infants. "That's why these kind of seats [should be] absolutely forbidden."
The testers also found that small parts such as valve-stoppers on which kids could choke were also very easy to remove from blow-up animals. A further six toys contained illegal levels of various dangerous chemicals such as carcinogenic plasticizers.
This is the fourth such test by the TÜV, which registered "a slightly positive trend" in the market - in 2009, over 60 percent of the tested articles failed to meet safety standards. But, said the organisation, there are still many very dangerous products on sale.
The organisation said parents must read all safety advice carefully and only buy inflatables at chain stores with quality assurances.
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The safest swimming and flotation devices were not made to look like bright toys anyway, said the organisation, and warned parents against ever buying a toy which smelled very strongly of unpleasant chemicals.