Nearly 250 children drowned or nearly drowned in portable pools from 2001 to 2009, about two dozen each year, the first national study of portable pool safety has found. The study, which gathered its data from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, was published today in the online edition of the journal Pediatrics. It reports that wading pools, inflatable pools, and other soft-sided portable pools carry a similar danger level to in-ground pools, and some children drowned in as little as two inches of water.
Almost all the drownings or near-drownings--94 percent--involved children under 5 years of age. Fifty-six percent involved boys, and 73 percent occurred in the child's own backyard. Researchers concluded that many parents might not feel the same sense of safety urgency with portable pools as they do with the deeper waters of in-ground pools.
"The anecdotal evidence was suggesting that because portable pools are readily available in many convenience stores and malls, and they're relatively cheap, parents would pick them up, take them home, quickly assemble them, and all this would be done without a lot of forethought about the safety aspects," the study's senior author, Dr. Gary A. Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, told The Associated Press.
Smith recommends a consumer education campaign to raise awareness that drowning is the second-leading cause of injury deaths among young children, and portable pools can be dangerous if safety precautions are not taken. Precautions should take the form of "layers of protection," the study said, including constant, vigilant adult supervision, proper isolation or fencing around the pool when not in use, and CPR education for caregivers and parents.
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