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June 20th, 2011
01:13 PM ET

Portable pools pose surprising drowning dangers

Warm summer weather means pool time for children and adults. And while most parents are aware of the potential dangers of in-ground swimming pools, they may not be aware of the dangers posed by portable pools, according to a new study in the journal Pediatrics.

Drowning was the second leading accidental cause of death among children aged 1 to 15 in the United States according to CDC data for 2006. The highest risk for drowning is among boys younger than age 5, and more than half of the drowning deaths reported in 2006 occurred at home.

Portable pools - which include movable wading pools, inflatable pools, and “soft sided, self rising” pools can be found in home improvement stores, variety stores, toy stores, and even at the grocery store.

The Pediatrics study is the first to look at deaths and injuries that occurred in portable pools in among kids younger than age 12 in the United States. It’s important to note that incidents can occur in less than 2 feet of water.

Between 2001 and 2009 a total of 244 portable pool submersion incidents were reported for children younger than age 12.  Of those events, 86%  – 209 cases — were fatal.  The majority of incidents – 94% – involved kids younger than age 5.  Almost three-quarters occurred at the child’s home, mostly during the summer months.

The study found that the number of portable pool submersion cases increased 500% from 2001 to 2005, however the injury rates held steady from 2005 to 2009.

Parents need to be aware of the dangers of wading pools and know that kids always need to be supervised when they are playing in pools. While protective fencing is a measure that makes sense for in-ground pools, it doesn’t always make economic sense to install fencing around an inexpensive wading pool.  The authors of the study suggest the wading pool industry consider developing reasonably priced fencing to limit access to pools, as well as covers for the pools, and alarm systems that alert when the pool is entered. And it's important for caregivers to have water safety instruction which includes CPR.


soundoff (81 Responses)
  1. arthurb3

    I am confused. Did parents think there was no risk of drowning in a wading pool?

    June 20, 2011 at 14:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • guitargeek85

      Why would a parent think there's a risk? After all, its the responsibility of the manufacturer to put out a safe product so parents can continue to not watch their kids, right? (sarcasm)

      June 20, 2011 at 14:53 | Report abuse |
    • guest

      No need to be confused...this was a completely useless article. I guarantee this was a senior Emergency Medicine residency project to post on their department's wall to impress prospective residents.

      June 20, 2011 at 22:29 | Report abuse |
    • OnlyPortablePoolsUnsafe

      It's great to know only PORTABLE pools pose a drowning risk... CNN... What a mess.

      June 20, 2011 at 23:11 | Report abuse |
    • CupOfWater

      Technically, anyone can drown in a few gallons of water. That's the story headline. This fact has nothing to do with "portable pools". What a bunch of media nimrods.

      June 20, 2011 at 23:12 | Report abuse |
    • Norm

      Good heavens....they forgot to warn us about the bathtub.
      Call an emergency meeting.
      Quick!!

      June 20, 2011 at 23:51 | Report abuse |
    • long wang

      I don't find it confusing at all. The article says that portable pool poses "surprising drowning danger", and it has data to back it up. It is pretty clear that parents aren't aware of this danger enough as is shown by the data. As a parent I think this article is valuable in rising awareness of this danger, especially during this time of the year.

      June 21, 2011 at 00:56 | Report abuse |
    • long wang

      @Norm They didn't "forgot to warn you about bathtab". I'm pretty sure bathtabs aren't that dangerous, since when it's not in use, it's empty. This article pointed out that portable pools are usually not enclosed by fence, like in ground ones. This is why this kind of pool poses special danger.

      June 21, 2011 at 00:59 | Report abuse |
    • Dumb Grandparents

      My kids grandparents are apparently unaware, as we discovered they let our 3 year old boy play in their portable pool unsupervised.

      June 21, 2011 at 08:24 | Report abuse |
  2. Jen

    Why not just empty it and put it away when you / the kids are done with it?

    June 20, 2011 at 14:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dee

      I guess I never thought of emptying the pool because I didn't want to waste water (unless it needed cleaning). But my daughter was not allowed near it unless I was there. With my youngest (now 1), I probably will empty it when I get another one. Better safe than sorry.

      June 20, 2011 at 17:52 | Report abuse |
    • CupOfWater

      Why not WATCH YOUR KIDS while they're swimming?

      June 20, 2011 at 23:13 | Report abuse |
  3. jenny

    I swear some parents are just so #@*% stupid. Really, get an alarm to let you know if anyone enters the pool area? Just watch your kids! You know, go outside WITH them and drain the pool when its not in use. Pay them some attention. And who the heck lets a kid under 5 go outside alone? A lazy, sorry, dumb @## parent.

    June 20, 2011 at 15:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sus

      I still go outside with my almost 8 year olds unless I am in the kitchen and then they HAVE to to stay where I can see them or they come inside I always know where my children are. I know they day is fast approaching that I am going to have to trust them to use common sense and stay safe, but honestly who lets their toddler roam free outside...wading pool or not?

      June 20, 2011 at 16:23 | Report abuse |
    • Dee

      I can't tell you how many 3 year-olds I have seen running around unsupervised. I keep a close eye on my kids and they are not allowed to roam the neighborhood, much less be alone during swimming.

      June 20, 2011 at 17:50 | Report abuse |
    • kirstyloo

      At some point, a child is capable of opening the door. Once that happens, even the best rules fail. Picture Junior (age 3 or 4) playing in the pool with mom. Everyone goes in the house and cleans up. It was a good day. Junior plays quietly in the family room while mom starts dinner. Junior then remembers the fun he had in the pool and slips out the door and goes back the pool...then the unthinkable happens. While neglect or "lazy" parents might be an issue in the minority of cases, it isn't in most. The above picture could happen in many families...so watch your child in the pool and dump it when their done with the pool...everytime.

      June 20, 2011 at 18:38 | Report abuse |
    • erich2112x

      You talk to your kids that way Jen?

      June 20, 2011 at 20:34 | Report abuse |
    • K Shaw

      The problem with most parents today is that they're to wrapped up in themselves to care about their chiildren. Everyday, I see children as young as three, outside playing without an adult around. Everyday we see news stories about children being killed, or getting into serious trouble in the early hours. To many children of all ages are allowed to do as they please, because that's exactly what their parents are doing. It's a huge problem that's growing each day, with no end in sight.

      June 20, 2011 at 22:28 | Report abuse |
    • long wang

      Some of these portable pools are very large. It's just inconvenient and wasteful to drain it every time.

      June 21, 2011 at 01:04 | Report abuse |
    • Poor 5 year old

      Poor 5 year old kid that can't even go play in the backyard unless Mommy is with her.

      June 21, 2011 at 08:26 | Report abuse |
  4. Janice

    So portable pools are no more dangerous than regular pools. Duh.

    June 20, 2011 at 16:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. kristin

    The pools aren't killing kids; inattentive parents are killing kids.

    June 20, 2011 at 16:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Julie

      I wish there was a "like" button for your comment.

      June 20, 2011 at 20:39 | Report abuse |
    • gingerpeach

      where is the like button?? I agree 100%

      June 20, 2011 at 21:32 | Report abuse |
  6. Oleg

    Has anyone considered dangers of NOT using pools, bikes and similar products? Like obesity and associated risks of stroke, heart attack, dateless life...

    June 20, 2011 at 18:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Chester

    While agree that some people are just not paying attention to their kids....accidents do just happen! I had a wake up call when my toddler figured out how to open the LOCKED slider door when he was 2. I was upstairs putting laundry away and he snuck out because he wanted to go outside! I am not stupid and i am a very attentive parent. If i had a pool of water in my back yard, my story could have had a bad ending. Bottom line....EMPTY these types of pools after each use and when you go inside. Better safe then sorry! And....put a stick in your slider door 🙂

    June 20, 2011 at 19:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Pablo

      Chester, How your kid managed to walk downstairs? If you are doing laundry upstairs, eh/she should be next you at all times and you would have a gate on your stairs. Forget about the pool, the kid can roll down the steps. I think I am missing something in you story, but a 2 year old downstairs while you are upstairs makes absolutely no sense.

      June 21, 2011 at 00:04 | Report abuse |
    • ch

      Are you serious, Pablo? Do you take your child with you everywhere in the house with you at all times? Even when you're in the bathroom? What about when you go to sleep at night? Does he/she sleep in bed with you or possibly in their own room? You can't have your child with you 24/7. Any common sense parent will place their child in a safe location if they need to, perhaps a portable crib, if they need to put away laundry. Accidents happen, however, so it's good to be aware and take precautions.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:01 | Report abuse |
  8. Karen Leonard

    I learned from an article regarding how easy it is for a toddler to drown in as little as two inches of water in a regular bucket! A curious child could easily stick a head into the bucket to investigate, and the child could lose balance and fall head-first into the bucket! As for putting the wading pool away once the children are finished wading, parents put up these pools for big summer parties where there are many children who are not being specifically supervised as it is assumed "someone" is keeping an eye on the pool. People are talking, greeting new friends, and lose sense of time, allowing for a dangerous end.

    June 20, 2011 at 20:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jen M

      I never let my young children outside without me, and I am a very safety-conscious parent. However, I am not fool enough to think that I'm an infallible robot who can keep my children from all harm. Instead, I take precautions and try to anticipate lurking dangers. While this article has its flaws, it does raise a valuable area of concern that not all parents, grandparents, and other caretakers have considered. I hope those posters who bash parents who've lost their children to terrible accidents never have to share their pain. Karma is a b-h.

      June 21, 2011 at 18:16 | Report abuse |
  9. C Johnson

    There's a serious inaccuracy in this article - children can drown in as little as two INCHES of water, not two FEET.

    June 20, 2011 at 20:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jan

      That's what I was going to say. TWO INCHES! That's how kids drown in the bathtub! 😦

      June 20, 2011 at 23:06 | Report abuse |
  10. K Shaw

    The way this story reads, it sounds like they want to blame the manufactures for the drownings, when the fault lays entirely with the parents/guardians/other so called responsible adults. An ounce of prevention (supervision), can save tons of pain and heartache. Dose anyone in his/her right mind think that it's practical to purchase a motion detector or a fence, for a kiddie pool? Maybe what the parents should be forced to purchase is COMMON SENSE....

    June 20, 2011 at 22:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • chvinson10

      i completely agree. don't blame the company! blame the careless adult that for some reason left the child unnatended!

      June 21, 2011 at 19:22 | Report abuse |
  11. Joe

    200 deaths over 8 year year periods, don't bother me with such alarmist dribble!

    June 20, 2011 at 22:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Troy

    Bathtubs pose a risk of drowning as well and should be removed from homes where children live.

    June 20, 2011 at 22:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Harry Bolzak

    NEWS FLASH: people drown in pools of water. More at 11.

    June 20, 2011 at 22:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. jeepster455

    This article serves no purpose whatsoever. Anyone knows a child can drown in a few feet of water, so can an adult.
    There was an incident in Greenwich, CT over the weekend where a two-year-old child and his grandmother died in a koi pond.
    I don't know the specifics of what happened, but unfortunately it did. The bottom line is a child needs constant supervision around water, and that is not news to responsible, intelligent parents and adults.

    June 20, 2011 at 22:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. PCT

    When will California ban kiddie pools?

    June 20, 2011 at 23:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. FU

    If you need anyone to explain to you that your kids could drown in a kiddy pool, you probably should not be having kids...

    June 20, 2011 at 23:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Jon

    To all sarcastic answers....get lost.
    No matter how redundant the article is, if it saves one childs life, its worth it. Stop being so pessimistic.

    June 21, 2011 at 00:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Daniela

      Thank you -I feel the same way...

      June 21, 2011 at 00:47 | Report abuse |
  18. Arran Webb

    I think CNN should use an adult actor and enact some of the potential drowning accidents with a small pool so we can see the dangerous possibilities. The actor should be female or male and extremely attractive and wearing a very small bathing suit. The action should be in slow motion with close ups of the danger.

    June 21, 2011 at 00:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. guy

    It ain't the pools that are the problem...it's BAD PARENTING!!! Kids are our most precious resource...keep them close and watch them like a hawk!!!

    June 21, 2011 at 00:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Cam

    I think even great attentive parents can loose track of their kids in their home environment, for a few minutes. And water is like a magnet to children and so deadly. It doesn't matter if it is a toilet, a small blow up pool, a 5 gallon bucket or a tub, if it's got water in it empty it when you are done. I had one of my kids tip head first in a 5 gallon bucket. I was right there and grabbed her, but things just happen so fast. So preventable and so heartbreaking when it happens to someone you know.

    June 21, 2011 at 00:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Lanfear

    Next article will be: Bath tubs pose risk!

    June 21, 2011 at 01:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. long wang

    I am astonished at the lack of common sense shown in some comments. People talk about supervision being the key, but the fact is that people make mistakes, even careful, responsible people. Portable pools creates occasions where people can be caught off guard. Very large portable pools are just like in ground pools - you are not suppose to drain it every time, because it will flood your yard on top of wasting tons of water. There are cleaning pumps designed for this type of pool. But as pointed out by the article, people seldom enclose them by fence, like in ground pools. This creates the situation that a kid safety relies on constant supervision. Even the best of the parents may slip, that's exactly why parents enclose in-ground pools.

    June 21, 2011 at 01:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. arejaye

    Portable pools pose surprising drowning dangers

    So do bathtubs

    June 21, 2011 at 02:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Mel

    It is apparent most of the people criticizing this article and criticizing parents who don't watch their kids have no children and probably have never even baby sat a toddler. Small children are fast and curious and always find a way to get into trouble. It's always a good reminder to be safe. If they spill something and you look down at the spill they made to clean it up, that gives them enough time to run off and cause more trouble.

    June 21, 2011 at 08:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. thinker

    My goodness – it's a wonder any of us over 40 made it through childhood alive!

    June 21, 2011 at 11:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. LeRoy E Ziegler

    I hate hearing about these kinds of deaths, I was an EMT for years and I have heard so many of these tragic stories about children drowning in pools. I have a new invention idea that will help prevent this kind of thing, The Octopus, I just hope it can be developed before more children die. I am keeping my fingers crossed and praying.

    June 21, 2011 at 12:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. chvinson10

    ok i think that, call me crazy, you should watch your kid while swimming! great idea huh?

    June 21, 2011 at 19:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • chvinson10

      crazy idea time, watch your kids!

      June 21, 2011 at 19:20 | Report abuse |
  28. Pool Vac Cleaner

    Two Seconds is Too Long. Never leave kids alone by water.

    August 25, 2011 at 12:06 | Report abuse | Reply
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