Portable Pools: Real Responsibility, Real Risk

Written by Wendy Sue Swanson MD

I’ve got 2 boys under the age of 5. While reading a Pediatrics article just now my stomach flipped. It’s because I read:

 Children younger than 5 years, especially boys, are at greatest risk from drowning in swimming pools.

The words startled me as pediatrician but as Mama, too. Three thousand children under the age of 5 were treated in the ER each year between 2006-2008 for injuries associated with submersions.

Private pools were the riskiest pools of all. Over half of the children who drowned and died (129/209) did so at their own home. Wrong, terrible, traumatic.

94% of the fatal and nonfatal downing injuries in portable, above-ground pools in the US between 2001 and 2009 were in children younger than 5 years. If you have, or entertain, or care for, or ever have the responsibility for a child under age 5 near water, think about safety ahead of time. That pool you buy at Target for $11.99 comes with real responsibility. That pool you buy at Target for $11.99 comes with real risk. Don’t believe because of a portable or above-ground pool’s size, cost, or convenience, it’s any safer than the ginormous pool at the YMCA. The article this week would suggest it may be alarmingly deceptive from a danger stand-point. Those plastic blow up pools just look so benign…

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Dr. Swanson practicing pediatrician and the mother of two young boys.  She sees patients at The Everett Clinic in Mill Creek, Washington. She is also  on the medical staff at Seattle Children’s and am a Clinical Instructor in theDepartment of Pediatrics at the University of Washington. Dr. Swanson is passionate about improving the way media discusses pediatric health news and influences parents’ decisions when caring for their children.

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