About every five days a child drowns in a portable pool in the U.S.
Are you as shocked by that statistic as I am? It comes from a new study released by investigators at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. For the study, researchers looked at the drowning deaths of more than 200 children younger than 12 years old that occurred in backyard, above-ground pools.
The study found that 94 percent of the children were younger than 5 and the majority of deaths involved boys. About three-quarters of the deaths took place in the child's own yard. Most surprisingly, more than 40 percent of the drownings occurred when the child was being supervised. And about 40 percent of the drownings happened in a shallow wading pool.
Above-ground backyard pools are generally inexpensive and either pre-assembled, or easy to put together. Many folks don't recognize that they are as risky to kids as deeper in-ground pools. But large and small, shallow and deep, these above-ground backyard pools pose the same drowning risk to kids as larger pools.
So does this mean you have to give up your wading pool? Not necessarily, but it does mean that you should treat it with the same caution that you would a larger pool. Keep the pool empty when it's not in use. For larger background pools, remove the ladder when you can't be around to supervise. And when your kids are in the pool, be sure to really supervise (and no — reading, sleeping, or texting by the pool doesn't count as paying attention.)