More Children Are Drowning In Pools And Spas, Says The CPSC

Here’s some bleak news, more children are drowning in pools and spas lately, says the CPSC. The increase in deaths is probably due to a increase in the number of pools and spas in the U.S., but Consumer Reports warns that some pools are more dangerous than others.

From the Wall Street Journal:

These pools, unlike in-ground models — which usually require a construction permit — are less likely to be subject to local safety codes that call for measures such as fencing, covers or alarms, advocates say. Inflatable pools can be quite large, accommodating several adults and, in many cases, accessible by a ladder.

Donald Mays, senior director of product safety and technical public policy at Consumers Union, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group, urges consumers not to buy such inflatable pools. He says that the sides are often pliable, making it easy for a child to topple in.

Mr. Mays also says that such pools’ covers are usually designed to keep out debris but cannot withstand the weight of a person. He mentioned an incident in which kids playing on a cover of one of these pools got entangled and drowned.

“The fact is that when people buy these very inexpensive pools at drugstores or the supermarket, towns are not aware they are being installed … and safety measures don’t get put in,” Mr. Mays says.

Here’s some more pool safety information from Consumer Reports. A particularly useful tip:

Since every second counts, always look for a missing child in the pool first. Precious time is often wasted looking for missing children anywhere but in the pool.

Child Drownings Rise, Spark Safety Concerns [WSJ]

Rise in child drownings prompts new warnings on pool safety [Consumer Reports]


Edit Your Comment

  1. I think you nailed it Meg. Its because there are a lot more of these thing out there as the prices dropped over the last decade. I would love to see the ratio of drawnings to type of pool, since most of the news stories I see are toddlers falling into in ground pools, not above ground ones,

  2. flyingphotog says:

    The increase in drownings is due to the increase in slacker parents who refuse to supervise their kids at play.

  3. sysak says:

    Gate with a combination lock blocking off the deck does well to keep the kids away. But the squirrels. Poor bastards. Just can’t keep them out.

  4. Trai_Dep says:

    Well sure, it’s tragic. But sooner or later, we’re going to find that one kid who, due to a mutant gene, is able to breathe underwater and talk to fish.
    And when that day happens, we’re one step closer to The Justice League.
    Progress, people. Progress!

  5. Bladefist says:

    Lets regulate your ability to have a pool, and have 8 ft fences around it. OOps too late.

  6. mgy says:

    @Trai_Dep: I’m with you. Natural selection may have snuffed these super mutants out in other ways because their unique gift was never discovered and they weren’t coddled. We need to supervise our kids while they drown.

  7. BlackFlag55 says:

    We outfitted all our grandkids with Michelin Man safety bumper pads and lockable helmets so they can go to the bathroom safely.

    And to think … my brother and I learned to swin in a river with no adults around.

  8. NotATool says:

    Lots of people have these inflatable pools…nobody ever buys a fence for the pool. It’s not even clear who would enforce a fence requirement for this…

  9. Ahoatam says:

    As the book Freakonomics points out, children are far more likely to drown in a pool than be killed by a handgun in the house. Guns, however, have the stigma of death and pools have the stigma of fun, so most of this goes unreported.

  10. ARP says:

    Perhaps we should simply institute a white trash tax for above ground pools and trampolines to pay for their burden to society.


    Pools are like television. They’re a substitute for parenting. Let them out back and ignore them. The same parents who won’t let their kids in the street or go to a park because of fear of crime or accidents, won’t pay a bit of attention until their kid is face down in 3 feet of water because they jumped off the fence and hit the bottom. Just be a f*cking parent and pay attention to what your kids are doing! You’d be surprised how well your kids can turn out.

  11. mercnet says:

    “…inexpensive pools at drugstores or the supermarket…”

    If you buy a pool at a supermarket or drugstore, you probably deserve to drown, not your kid.

  12. Blackneto says:

    one word: Good

    maybe people will start paying attention to their precious snowflakes.

  13. vermontwriter says:

    I have to agree with flyingphotog. We have a family in our neighborhood, the mother LOVES to sunbathe. Three times in the past year, her three-year-old has seen my nephew and I taking a walk and followed me home. I live in the country on the opposite side of the block. So that’s about 1/4 mile away.

    The first time, I didn’t turn around at any point, so I didn’t know he’d followed me until I looked out my kitchen window and saw a kid on my swingset. The other two times, I kept my eye on him and turned around to walk him back home. His mother’s response each time, “Oh, you just blink and he’s missing.” Social services has been called and to date they’ve done nothing but issued her warnings. I’m afraid the boy will die before she takes his disappearances serious.

  14. djanes1 says:

    Shouldn’t all that junk food blubber kids have these days keep them afloat?

  15. boss_lady says:

    @NotATool: In Canada, municipal governments are in charge of enforcing fences for these soft-side pools. I believe the fence must be at least eight feet tall, but if it’s in a kid’s back yard, I suppose they’re already inside the parameters of the fence. Sad. There are people in my neighborhood that have these pools on their front lawn!

  16. Needy's Body says:

    I’d be more sympathetic but I know a majority of these accidents happen because the parents are assholes who don’t watch their children. I’m surprised more drunk white trash parents don’t drown…

  17. birdwatcher3 says:

    In Massachusetts, there are hardly any municipal swimming pools left due to budget problems. I don’t know how the kids whose families don’t own pools can even learn to swim anymore. This sends more inexperienced swimmers to the rivers and lakes in unsupervised areas and more drownings as a result.

  18. joellevand says:

    Watch your children and you shouldn’t have this problem!

    Damn. Is it that hard, really?

  19. Bladefist says:

    @joellevand: for the modern day parent, its like curing cancer.

  20. Kajj says:

    I agree that the advent of super-large wading pools is partly to blame. I think parents think of those plastic inflatable pools more like toys, in the slip & slide or water sprinkler vein, and don’t take them as seriously.
    I don’t really blame the parents for buying them – I had a wading pool as kid and loved it – but mine came with a babysitter soaking her feet, within arm’s reach at all times.

  21. Bladefist says:

    @joellevand: I think its because modern day parents are way too self involved and dont sacrifice a bigger part of their life to their kids the way my parents did.

  22. Nylo says:

    Maybe this is due to irresponsible parent not watching their kids. I have see this happen so many times when I worked as a Life Guard.

    Pools don’t kill kids, inattentive parents do!

  23. You know, it can still happen even to the best, most attentive, even over-protective parent. Kids only need the blink of an instant to fall down the stairs, slip into the pool, fling themselves onto the hot oven burner, etc. It’s pretty fucking harsh to say everyone who loses their child this way is bad parent. I nannied for a family whose toddler was such an escape artist they had every door and window alarmed because he could be outside before you could take two steps to chase him, even with every door and window locked. He STILL got out. And it’s unreasonable to demand parents be awake 24/7 all the time to watch because their toddler MIGHT wake up suddenly and make a break for freedom.

    We had family friends whose toddler drowned in the pool. They were not inattentive. Mom turned her head when the toddler was in the playpen for no more than 90 seconds because the infant had toppled over and was squalling. By the time she snagged the infant, the toddler was 3/4 of the way to the pool. He drowned in moments, even though she was in that pool light lightning (having plopped the shrieking, possibly injured infant in the playpen).

    The entire friggin’ family was on suicide watch for weeks. They were never the same. It was a tragedy, not a “what a bad mom!” thing.

  24. theblackdog says:

    @ARP: It’s sad that many parents have gone this way. The basic rule when I was growing up was “Don’t even think of going near the pool without an adult.” The one time I pushed my luck with the rule boy did I get it (It was that the teenage babysitter was the supervisor instead of a true adult).

    If I have kids I will enforce the same rules.

  25. theblackdog says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: Now that’s tragic.

  26. MissPeacock says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: Yeah. A family two houses down from mine had their 2 year old drown in the pool a few years ago. He had been playing by the pool (not in it), but he fell down toward the pool and rolled in it when he fell. I don’t know how long he was out there unsupervised, but by the time his parents found him, he was dead. It was AWFUL.

  27. syndprod says:

    @boss_lady: About 20 years ago, my Dad worked as a code enforcer for his small town. It was always kind of sad on hot days to go to houses and tell the owners that everyone had to get out of the above-ground pool because there wasn’t a high enough fence around it.

    Oh, and you think the front yard is bad for an plastic pool? In the truly trashy suburb I drive through, I’ve seen people set them up on the sidewalk in front of their apartments!

  28. bnb614 says:

    Please help me with my math here and tell me what I am missing. The Consumer Report article says:

    “The number of drowning fatalities of children younger than five in swimming pools and spas has increased to a yearly average of 283 for the years 2003 to 2005”

    then they say

    “Drowning is the leading cause of death in children ages one to four.”

    So I assume there are dozens of ways children age 1 to 4 could possibly die, as horrible as it is for any child to die. So there is no way to know what percentage of children die by drowning to make it the leading cause. Let’s assume 10% of all deaths for children aged one to four was from drowning, and that makes it the leading cause.

    An average of 283 children drown per year which is 10% of 2,830.

    Are there no more than ~3,000 children aged 1 to 4 in the U.S. each year?

    In other words I am questioning that drowning is the leading cause, if there are only an average of 283 per year.

    Also there are roughly 20,000,000 kids under the age of 5 in the U.S. It is horrible any kid dies, but 283 is 1/100th of 1%.

    Isn’t this article a little bit of emotional alarmism?

    I hope no kid would die by drowning but you know some politician is going to use this data to push for regulations of pools when, I think things are pretty safe as they are….

  29. bnb614 says:

    Are there no more than ~3,000 children aged 1 to 4 in the U.S. each year?

    Should say:

    Are there no more than ~3,000 children aged 1 to 4 who die in the U.S. each year?

  30. RandomHookup says:

    I thought this group was pro-independence and anti-overprotective parents? I agree parents have to be careful, but a small child can drown in a bathtub or a bucket. Just cover your kids in bubble wrap and unseal at age 16.

  31. vancedecker says:

    This country has been damaged more by hysterical parents than by any terrorist.

    Now that the ridiculous national precedent has been solidified, that you are libel for any stupid thing that someone trespassing on your property does, I see that the incredibly infantile parental arguments have proliferated.

    Why can’t you people get it through your thick skulls that sometimes children die because they do stupid things.

    That’s Life.

    You should take precautions. Teach your children to swim as young as possible. I used to teach toddlers swimming as a swim instructor. Aside from that you should learn to mind your own damn business, keep track of your children, and not blame everyone else for your parental negligence.

    This is the type of stupid issue that congress wastes it’s time on. Meanwhile everything else goes to hell.

  32. Benny Gesserit says:

    I have a gym membership at a local hotel (close to work – sweet.) There’s a hot-tub next to the pool with giant signs (Eng/Fre) reading “NO ONE under 16 is permitted in the hot-tub.”

    One morning another fellow and i were swimming when super-mom entered with two kids (maybe 7 and 9yo.) While I was standing there before starting more laps, mom herded the kids into the hot-tub, said “I’m going for a Tims, you two’ll be ok for a couple of minutes” and left.

    For the first time in recorded history, I was dumbstruck. I looked at the other fellow he was looking at me like “Did you hear that too?” Off she went for a Tims – which is a coffee shop in Canada and the only one nearby is ACROSS THE STREET from the fraking hotel!!

    So – to sum up: she left the kids alone in a hot-tub, in a pool area with two men she’s never met before to go across the street to a crowded coffee shop and get a coffee. Oh, did I mention there are no life guards in the area – another giant Eng/Fre sign explaining it?

    Pools don’t kill children; lack-wit parents do. It’s like my mom used to say “They make ya take a test to drive a car but anybody can have a kid.”

    PS: I left the pool, called down to the front desk, explained the situation and a nice (lady) staff person came up to keep them company until Mom came back from her caffeine break.

  33. nardo218 says:

    I’d like to point out that a child under five is top heavy, which is why they can drown in toilets or an inch of water, or a shallow pool. It only takes a minute for a small child to lean over far enough — to touch the water, for instance — that his/her heavy cantelope head that gave mom an episiotomy scar tips the child into the pool and the child’s weaker legs can’t pull him back.

  34. Pro-Pain says:

    @Blackneto: +1 for telling it like it is. EVERY single case I’ve seen of a stupid/idiotic/unintelligent child it’s always a sign that the parents are worthless. It shouldn’t be so easy to make a child. Stupid people have ruined this country.

  35. mythago says:

    @RandomHookup, you know that the exact same people blathering about careless white trash parents are the ones who blather about Kids These Days Being Mollycoddled By Overprotective Parents. Sadly, way too many people here find their greatest joy in life is to talk as often as possible about how smart they are, and how others’ misfortune merely proves their stupidity and inferiority.

    Not to mention the surplus of idiots who clearly haven’t cared for anything more complicated than a Neopet.

  36. IrisMR says:

    Freak accidents happen. Sad but it does.

    If they don’t kill themselves in the pool they could kill themselves down with an accident at a playground. Overreacting and overprotecting won’t change anything.

    That said, here’s a trick: parents just have to be responsible and NOT let their dumb kids near the pool unsupervised. Sheesh.

  37. Joe_Bloe says:

    @mythago: “Not to mention the surplus of idiots who clearly haven’t cared for anything more complicated than a Neopet.”

    Truer words were never spoken. Welcome to teh internets. These days, consumerist comment logs are starting to look like Digg.

  38. Imaginary_Friend says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: That’s an excellent point.

    One of my friends has a teenaged son who is autistic and her entire day is a series of close calls. She’s an extremely devoted parent and watches her kids like a hawk, but he still managed to:

    Unlock the front door and climb into the UPS truck without the driver even noticing.

    Climb the fence into neighbors yards on a regular basis.

    Ingest various (seemingly harmless) non-food substances like soap or paper in such quantities he needed to be treated at the emergency room.

    Nearly set the house on fire by turning the (knobless) electric range on while everyone else was sleeping. And on and on…

    All of these incidents took place in the span of seconds; his parents can’t even go pee without him getting into something. No parent can watch their child 24/7, it’s physically impossible. That’s why it’s important for manufacturers to have safety mechanisms built into their products and also, pool owners need to take a little responsiblity too.

  39. strathmeyer says:

    Won’t childhood obesity fix this problem?

  40. Gondring says:

    @bnb614: Of course, not all drownings are in pools.