Study Finds Kiddie Pools “Pose a Significant Risk of Mortality to Children”

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Almost nothing seems more harmless than a kiddie pool.  These bright little rings of plastic look more like glorified puddles than actual swimming pools, and the cutesy animal patterns they tend to be printed with make them even less threatening.  But sometimes, looks can be deceiving.  Believe it or not, kiddie pools are a significant source of accidental drowning deaths in America — and as the summer days continue to heat up, it’s more important than ever to understand the dangers.

Little Toddler Boy Having Fun With Splashing Water In Summer Gar

Drowning is the 5th Leading Cause of Accidental Death in the U.S.

The CDC reports that roughly 10 people die by drowning every day, making drowning the fifth leading cause of accidental death in America.  From 2005 to 2009, the yearly average was a staggering 3,533 fatalities.

But when we think about drowning, we generally imagine lakes, oceans, and adult-sized pools.  Too often, we completely forget to consider kiddie pools.

Dr. Gary Smith is the senior author of a recent study about kiddie pool accidents published in the Journal of Pediatrics.  The study, titled Pediatric Submersion Events in Portable Above-Ground Pools in the United States, 2001–2009, set out to analyze the dangers.

85.7% of Kiddie Pool Accidents End in a Drowning Death

Pediatric Submersion uncovered some disturbing findings.

According to the study, from 2001 to 2009 there were:

  • 244 total accidents
  • 209 fatalities
  • 35 near fatalities

These numbers are alarming enough taken separately — but when considered together, they paint an even darker picture.  When you consider the fact that a total of 244 reported incidents included a total of 209 deaths, the ultimate conclusion is that nearly 86% of kiddie pool accidents end in the death of a child.  These events have an extremely low survival rate of just 14%.

Children aged four and younger were disproportionately victimized by drownings, accounting for 94% of all reported incidents.  The remaining 6% affected children aged five to 12.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of these terrible accidents took place during the hot months of summer.

In conclusion, the study stated, “The use of portable pools in residential settings poses a significant risk of submersion-related morbidity and mortality to children, especially in the <5-year-old age group.”

Child Playing By The Kiddie Pool

Why Are Kiddie Pools So Dangerous?

According to study author, Dr. Smith, the root of the problem amounts to a false sense of security.

“Because portable pools are generally small, inexpensive and easy to use,” says Dr. Smith, “parents often do not think about the potential dangers these pools present.”

Large pools pose an obvious danger, and as a result, children are closely supervised.  But because kiddie pools are so tiny and shallow, they tend to lull parents into a sense of complacency.  Distracted supervision (or a complete lack thereof) can end in catastrophe.

The fact that children are physically frail only makes the situation worse.  We’re all familiar with the idea that young children and the elderly often face elevated risks when ill or injured, and kiddie pools are no exception.  Dr. Smith says, “It only takes a couple of minutes and a few inches of water for a child to drown.”  A situation that may possibly be overcome by an adolescent or adult is often far more dangerous for a child — which is echoed in the fact that most of the accidents claimed one- to four-year-olds.

At the end of the day, the best way to avoid and prevent these terrible tragedies comes down to vigilant, constant, careful supervision. You can read the complete study here.

If your child was hurt because of negligence or a defective product, you may be entitled to compensation.  To speak privately with a child injury attorney, call the law offices of The Reiff Law Firm at (215) 246-9000, or contact us online for a free consultation.

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