All parents know that in-ground swimming pools are a danger to children. We know to keep an eye on swimming children, and homeowners need to keep the pool fenced in to prevent kids from accidentally falling in and drowning.
But the problem extends beyond large pools. Now, for the first time ever, the medical journal Pediatrics reports on submersion events in wading pools, kiddie pools, and portable above-ground pools.
According to the article, there were 209 fatal and 35 nonfatal cases reported from 2001 to 2009. Most (94%) involved children younger than age 5, and 73% of the events occurred in the child’s own backyard. The pools ranged from the tiny inflatable wading pools (with water 18 inches deep or less) to larger portable pools (with water depth 19 to 48 inches).
“In our opinion, we don’t think parents are paying the same attention to safety when they go out and buy a portable pool,” said Dr. Gary A. Smith, senior author of the study and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. “We want parents to understand these pools also pose a similar drowning risk for young children as in-ground pools.”
The stories were educational…and frightening.
It can be difficult to understand how 6 inches of water in a kiddie pool can be dangerous. (At least one accident occurred in a mere 2 inches of water.) For about 1-in-5 cases, supervision lapsed when the adult in charge fell asleep, answered the telephone, chatted with a neighbor, or did chores inside or outside of the house. In one case, two 9-year-old girls jumped into a covered, inflatable pool and drowned when they became entangled in the cover. In another, 3-year-old twins unlocked their back door, exited the house, and drowned in a neighbor’s pool.
According to the article in Pediatrics:
Preventing children from accessing the pool area is the first step in preventing submersion events in residential swimming pools. It is recommended that pool fencing be at least 4-feet high, nonclimbable, have no opening under the fence or between uprights…and have gates that open away from the pool and are self-closing and self-latching.
The researchers also suggest the use of door locks and alarms, removing ladders or items that could be used by a child to gain entry to the pool, keeping toys out of the pool (when not in use), and swimming and water safety lessons for children and adults. Also, it might be valuable to empty small pools after each use to prevent a child from going into the water unsupervised.
To read the full article in The New York Times, click here: Portable Pools Pose Drowning Risk
To read the full article in Pediatrics, click here: Pediatric Submersion Events