With temperatures climbing into the 80s, my kids and I spent our weekend trying to keep cool. Ice cream? Check. Sprinkler? Check. Inflatable wading pool? Check. And while I would never leave the kids alone in the pool, a new study will have me paying even closer attention when they’re splashing around.
The study, published online today and in the July issue of the journal Pediatrics, looked at 209 incidents of children younger than 12 drowning in portable, aboveground pools and 35 incidents of near drowning, reported to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission between 2001 and 2009. Ninety-four percent of these incidents involved kids younger than 5 years of age, 56% involved boys, and 73% occurred in the child’s own yard. Eighty-one percent occurred during the summer months—tragically averaging out to one child dying every 5 days in the summertime, according to the study’s lead author, Gary Smith, M.D., a pediatric emergency physician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
Plus: The Pool Safety Hazard You Don’t Know About
Dr. Smith and his fellow researchers focused on portable pools—including everything from small wading pools less than 18 inches deep (in which 41% of the incidents occurred) to other soft-sided pools that can be up to 4 feet deep. Although most parents recognize the inherent risks of permanent pools and take precautionary safety measures like fencing, pool alarms, removable ladders, or safety covers, few realize that the risk of drowning is just as real with portable pools. Of course, adult supervision is crucial, and in 39% of these incidents, there was none; 17% of the incidents occurred when there was a lapse in supervision, like the adult falling asleep or going to answer the phone, but 26% of them occurred when an adult was actively supervising the pool activity.
Plus: Swimming & Water Safety for Kids
In addition to paying close attention to kids in the pool, parents should also take measures to prevent kids from entering the pool unsupervised, including draining the pool, in the case of a small wading pool, or locking or removing ladders to bigger pools. Parents and caregivers should also receive or refresh their CPR training, as the study found that CPR was administered before emergency crews arrived in just 15 percent of the fatal drowning and 17% of the near-drownings. The researchers also called on the pool and spa industry to develop inexpensive fencing and safety covers that could be used for portable pools.
Plus: What You Should Know to Prevent Drowning
Do your kids play in kiddie pools? Will this study make you extra-cautious?