The French authorities are alerting parents and carers to the risk of water-absorbing gel beads being ingested by children, particularly the under-fives. These accidents can have serious and sometimes fatal consequences.
Water beads are designed to absorb up to 400 times their weight in water. Translucent and brightly coloured, they are used for decorative purposes, generally as vase fillers for cut flowers. Great care must be taken to keep the beads well out of reach when supervising young children.