MIAMI (CBS4) – School is out, the South Florida sun is blistering hot and what kid doesn’t want to spend the afternoon splashing around in a pool.
According to a new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, nationwide a child dies in a portable pool every five days during the summer.
The study, the first of its kind on child drownings in small portable pools, found from 2001 through 2009 there were 209 deaths and 35 near-drownings of children under 12 years of age; most of the children, 94 percent, were under the age of five. The study found that children were supervised by adults in fewer than half, 43 percent, of the drownings and near-drownings, and that most, 73 percent, were at home.
Portable pools can range from anywhere from inflatable wading pools less than 18 inch deep to soft-sided pools which can reach a depth of four feet.
In 2000, then Florida Senator Debbie Wasserman Schultz pushed through the Florida Residential Pool Safety Act which outlines the minimum safety requirements for residential swimming pools. Under the law a pool must have at least one safety feature to pass a final inspection and receive a certificate of completion. Safety feature options include fencing around the pool, an approved safety pool cover, or alarms on all door and windows which have direct access to the poll.
These protections, however, do not apply to portable pools.
“They’re not required by law to have a fence around them so you’re basically taking a very dangerous thing and putting it wherever you like,” said Dive Rescue Lt. Robert Jorge, of Miami Fire Rescue.
The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals supports “layers of protection,” and the study underscores the importance of undistracted adult supervision, said senior director Carvin DiGiovanni.
“The primary layer of protection is constant adult supervision supplemented by barriers, alarms and other related devices,” he said. “We encourage homeowners to purchase the additional layer of protection that works for them knowing that they would be more likely to use it.”
Drowning is the second-leading cause of injury deaths among young children.
(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)