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Alarming Statistics on Portable Pool Deaths

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With temperatures soaring into the 90s here in Virginia Beach, Virginia (VA), kids are sure to be looking for fun ways to keep cool and those low cost, low effort inflatable pools available at discount stores start to look pretty attractive to parents looking to provide hours of entertainment on hot, sweltering days. But a recently released study on the dangers of portable pools warns that these pools are more dangerous than they appear and that consumers need to act with more caution when buying and using portable pools.

According to the study released by a research institute at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, every five days during the summer months, a child drowns in a portable pool. The study examined all sorts of portable pools ranging from wading pools less than 18 inches deep, to large inflatable pools with depths up to 4 feet. The vast majority of the cases examined in the study, 94 percent involved children under the age of 5, and 73 percent of those accidents occurred in the child’s own backyard. One issue that researchers highlight is the lack of parental awareness about the dangers of these backyard pools resulting in consumers not taking safety precautions seriously.

While adequate parental supervision is front and center in keeping children safe around water, the study highlights how even the briefest lapse in supervision to answer the phone, chat with a neighbor, or take care of some chore can spell disaster. In fact, more than 40 percent of the cases that were part of the study involved adult supervision. As a result, the study’s authors emphasize the need to have many different layers of protection in place in order to prevent child drownings in portable pools. These layers should include measures to prevent the child from accessing the pool without supervision, keeping children safe during use of the pool and being prepared to respond to an emergency when it does occur.

Since portable pools rarely come with any of the safety precautions found around permanent swimming pools such as fencing, alarms, safety covers and removable ladders, it is important for consumers to be particularly vigilant about safety. The research team offers the following tips:

  • Allow children to be in the area of the pool only under adult supervision. Adequate adult supervision means full attention is needed. Avoid distractions such as reading, chores, phone calls or chatting with others.
  • Have children take swimming lessons and learn about water safety.
  • Keep toys out of the pool when not in use.
  • Empty wading pools immediately after use.
  • Keep portable pools inside a fenced-in area of the yard. The fence should be at least 4 feet high, nonclimbable and have self-closing and self-latching gates that open away from the pool. Make sure there is no space under the fence or between the slats larger than 4 inches
  • Remove any items that could be used by a child to get access to the pool area.
  • Remove any steps and ladders that lead from the ground to the pool when the pool is not in use.
  • Use door locks and alarms to prevent children from going from the house to the pool without an adult.

About the Editors: The Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.