The goal of this study was to describe the epidemiology of pediatric submersion events occurring in portable pools in the United States.
A retrospective analysis of fatal and nonfatal submersion events involving children younger than 12 years in portable pools was conducted using injury and fatality data compiled by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission from 2001 through 2009.
There were 209 fatal and 35 nonfatal submersion cases reported to the commission from 2001 through 2009. The majority (94%) involved children younger than 5 years, 56% involved boys, 73% occurred in the child's own yard, and 81% occurred during the summer months. The number of submersion events increased rapidly from 2001 to 2005 and then leveled off from 2005 to 2009.
The use of portable pools in residential settings poses a significant risk of submersion-related morbidity and mortality to children, especially in the <5-year-old age group. No single strategy will prevent all submersion deaths and injuries; therefore, layers of protection are recommended. Industry is advised to engage in development of protective devices that are effective and affordable for portable pools, including isolation fencing, pool alarms, and safety covers. A strong and pervasive consumer education campaign is needed to make consumers aware of the dangers of portable pools, because these small, inexpensive, consumer-installed pools may not generate the same sense of risk as an in-ground pool.