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American Red Cross Offers Safety Guidance for Portable Pool Use

A recent Nationwide Children’s Hospital study published in the current journal of Pediatrics, highlights the drowning risks for children in portable pools.

The study, conducted by the Center for Inquiry Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, examined data from 2001 to 2009 and found that a child dies every five days in a portable backyard pool during the summer months. Almost all of the cases involved children under the age of five who died in portable pools in their own backyards. “Families may not realize that portable pools pose many of the same risks as above- or in-ground pools,” said Dr. Linda Quan, member of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council and drowning prevention expert. “You can help prevent drownings regardless of where the water is by following a few simple, yet essential, rules.” Make water safety a priority. Ensure that everyone in the family learns how to swim well. Teach children to always ask permission to go near or in the water.

Prevent unsupervised access to water. If you have a large portable pool, treat it like an above-ground pool. Remove access ladders and secure the safety cover whenever the pool is not in use. Install pool barriers. Empty and store smaller pools immediately after use. Maintain constant supervision. Never leave children unattended near water. Always stay within arm’s reach of young children and avoid distractions when supervising children around the water.

Know what to do in an emergency. If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability. Make sure you are trained in CPR/AED and first aid so you know what to do in an emergency.

“It is imperative that families provide safe environments for their children,” Quan added. “The Red Cross has a variety of resources to help people learn to swim, practice water safety, and help prevent drownings.”

Home Pool Essentials™ Maintenance and Safety Course

For those who own pools and hot tubs, the Red Cross has a Home Pool Essentials™: Maintenance and Safety online safety course that teaches the fundamentals of creating and maintaining a safe environment. Learn about the safety risks involved, the appropriate rescue equipment to have and how to respond to emergencies.

Learn-to-Swim Programs

The Red Cross has developed a comprehensive water safety program starting with Parent and Child Aquatics (6 months to about 3 years old) through lessons for adults. Participants learn swimming skills with a strong emphasis on drowning prevention and water safety.

Water safety tips and information can be found on Contact your local Red Cross to find out where Learn-to-Swim programs are offered in your area.

Survey information: "Pediatric Submersion Events in Portable Above-Ground Pools in the United States, 2001–2009," authored by Brenda J. Shields, MS; Carol Pollack-Nelson, Ph.D.; and Gary A. Smith, M.D., DrPH.