As temperatures start to rise, local families will be breaking out inexpensive, inflatable pools. They are convenient and give kids a chance to cool off in the summer, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission says there's been an increase in drownings associated with these pools.
"These pools are shallow, the sides are flexible... giving children easy access," says Hal Stratton, Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman.
Last year the CPSC reported a total of 17 drowning deaths involving inflatable pools. That's up from 2004, where there were nine reported cases, as well as in 2003, when there were ten reported deaths.
The pools can range in size from two feet deep for fifty dollars, to four feet deep and eighteen feet wide for under two hundred dollars.
The pools fall outside local building codes that require barriers, and many times families buy them not realizing what an important feature barriers can be, says Stratton. "Parents need to understand any pool poses a drowning risk and must consider the danger of water before investing in an inflatable pool."
Many drownings occur when young children aren't expected near the pool area. In the CPSC study, 70 percent of the victims were last seen in the house or a nearby yard or porch. 77 percent of victims had been missing for five minutes or less.
To reduce the risk of drowning, CPSC recommends layers of protection. That includes fences that completely surround pools, with self-closing, self-latching gates, alarms on doors leading to the pool, or power safety covers over the pools. No one layer of protection is fool-proof. The agency says that multiple layers and constant supervision are essential in protecting children around pools.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a recall on "Simple Set Pool Ladders" made by Aqua-Leisure Industries of Avon, Massachusetts. The commission says the plastic step support clips can be assembled upside down, causing the ladder steps to break under a user's weight. Consumers should contact Aqua Leisure for a free repair kit.