With summer pool season right around the corner, young children are at risk of drowning. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is warning about the increase in drowning deaths reported in inexpensive, inflatable pools, and again reminding parents and caregivers to take critical steps that will help protect children from drowning hazards in all types of pools.
there are about 280 drowning deaths of children younger than 5 each year in swimming pools, and an estimated 2,100 children were treated in hospital emergency rooms for pool submersion injuries in 2005 – mostly in residential pools. CPSC has reports of 17 drowning deaths involving inflatable pools in 2005, up from nine in 2004 and 10 in 2003. Small inflatable pools, about 2-feet deep, can cost as little as $50, and larger pools, up to 4-feet deep and 18-feet wide, can cost under $200. These pools often fall outside of local building codes that require barriers, and may often be purchased by consumers without considering the barriers necessary to help protect young children from the dangers of pools.
To reduce the risk of drowning, CPSC recommends layers of protection, including barriers, such as a fence with self-closing, self-latching gates completely surrounding pools to prevent unsupervised access by young children. If the house forms a side of the barrier, use alarms on doors leading to the pool area or a power safety cover over the pool. It is important to always be prepared for an emergency by having rescue equipment and a phone near the pool. Also, all parents should learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Many drowning deaths occur when young children are not expected to be near the pool area. In a CPSC study, almost 70 percent of the victims were last seen in the house or nearby on a porch or in the yard before the incident. Drowning can occur in the few minutes it takes to answer the phone. About 77 percent of the victims had been missing for 5 minutes or less when they were found. Precious time is often wasted looking for missing children anywhere but in the pool. Since every second counts, always look for a missing child in the pool first.
Copies of all these free publications can be obtained by going to CPSC’s Web site at www.cpsc.gov, or by calling CPSC’s Hotline at (800) 638-2772.