A Warning About Inflatable Pools
The weather's been so cool, it's hard to believe that Memorial Day--and the opening of swimming pools all over--is just a few days away.
But as the summer heat approaches, it's once again time to issue a warning about those increasingly popular inflatable swimming pools now in many toy, hardware and mass-merchandise stores. Last weekend, Target was promoting a 15-foot diameter, 42-inch high pool for $328. "Ready for water in 30 minutes." Toys R Us was selling a 16-foot diameter pool for $199.99
The price alone makes these pools attractive. Then, there's the easy set up. With an air pump, they can be ready in an hour. There's no need to dig anything.
To kids they are FUN. But to safety officials, they are DANGEROUS.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has seen a sharp rise in drowning deaths from these pools over the past few years. Last year, there were 17 reported deaths, up from nine in 2004 and 10 in 2003. Good Housekeeping magazine and Consumer Reports have both issued safety alerts about these pools as has Insurance Information Institute, a trade group for the insurance industry.
The reason: Most parents or caregivers don't drain these pools after each use. In fact, it would be pretty inconvenient and messy to constantly drain these supersized pools; some hold as much as 4,313 gallons of water. And most pools come with filters and a pump, which makes users think the water doesn't have to be drained.
But that's the problem, safety officials say, since a standing body of water is attractive to kids. That's why local building codes require fences to surround inground pools. But a lot of localities have no rules regarding these popular inflatable pools.
Consider the danger of water before investing in an inflatable pool," cautions CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton. "Parents need to understand any poses a drowning risk."
According to a CPSC study, many drowning deaths occur when young children are not expected to be near a pool area. In the study, 70 percent of the victims were last seen in the house or nearby on a porch or in the yard before the incident; about 77 percent of the victims had been missing for 5 minutes or less when they were found. Parents may think that they will hear lots of splashing and screaming if a child falls into the water. However, many times, "children slip under the water silently. Even people near the pool report hearing nothing out of the ordinary," the CPSC said in a recent alert.
There's also a risk of entrapment. Last year in Quebec, a 13-year-old drowned when her hair got caught in the inflatable pool's filter. Her head was pinned to the side of the pool underwater, and she could not get loose.
So think carefully before you leap. For more safety information, visit the CPSC's Web site.
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