Inflatable and Portable Pools
Kids Can Drown Without a Sound!
The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network (SCHN) is conducting a state-wide portable pool safety campaign “Kids Can Drown Without a Sound” for English and non-English speaking community groups. The campaign was developed after experts were concerned by the number of children experiencing drowning and near drowning incidents in portable swimming pools.
The campaign poster and brochure that have been produced to raise awareness among the community of the safety issues and fencing requirements associated with portable pools are available to download in English and 16 community languages.
For hard copies of the poster and brochure in English, Arabic, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Korean or Vietnamese, please fill out this order_form and email to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax to (02) 9845 3562.
The Protect Your Pool, Protect Your Kids checklist has also being translated into 16 community languages and is available for download from the Protect Your Pool, Protect Your Kids section of the website.
Inflatable pools can be more risky than pools that have been built.1 This is because most of these pools do not have fences and some are not able to be emptied after use due to their size. Without fences children have easy access to the water in the pool, placing them at high risk of drowning.
Of the children under the age of five who drown in NSW, about 50% occur in swimming pools.2-3 In America, 118 drowning deaths have been confirmed as occurring in portable pools from 2003-2012, but this could be higher as a large number of incidents are classified as occurring in above ground pools (unknown whether portable or permanent) or type of pool unknown (see Graph 1).4-7 The large majority of these incidents were among children under the age of five.
Table 1: Drowning in Inflatable or Portable Swimming Pools, America 2003-2012
In NSW, over a quarter (29.0%) of all drowning deaths among children in backyard swimming pools, occur in inflatable or portable swimming pools.8 8 of the 11 deaths (72.7%) that occurred in inflatable or portable pools between 2007 and 2011 did not have a fence which was required under the Swimming Pools Act 1992 (NSW).
Please click here to view the final report of the 2012-13 Kids Can Drown Without a Sound campaign, which includes further information on the issues with portable swimming pools.
- Small pools should only be used if you will empty and store them away after each use.
- Use larger portable pools only if you are willing to fence them.
- Fines apply if you do not have a four sided fence around any pool that can be filled with more than 30cm of water (the size of an average ruler)
- Inflatable and portable pools are not toys and children under the age of five should be supervised by a responsible adult at all times.
Please visit the pool fencing section of the website for more information on safe pool fencing.
To watch a news story on inflatable pool safety, please click on the following links:
1. Shields BJ, Pollack C, and Smith GA. (2011) Pediatric submersion events in portable above-ground pools in the United States, 2011-2009. Pediatrics. 128(1):45-52.
2. IRMRC. Injury related hospitalisations (unpublished data). Sydney: NSW Ministry of Health; 2012.
3. Royal Life Saving Society Australia. The 2011 New South Wales Drowning Report. Sydney: Royal Life Saving Society Australia; 2011.
4. Miles J. Wal-Mart Sued Over Inflatable Pool Drowning. Pool and Spa News. 2009 June 23 [cited 2010 Jan 17]. Available from: URL: http://www.poolspanews.com/2009/062/062n_walmart.html
5. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). As Pools Open for Summer, Young Children Face Drowning Risks. CPSC: Washington DC. 2006 May 17 [cited 2010 Jan 17]. Available from: URL: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml06/06164.html
6. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)-National Injury Information Clearinghouse. Inflatable pools (unpublished data). CPSC: Bethesda, MD; 2012 January 6.
7. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)-National Injury Information Clearinghouse. Inflatable pools (unpublished data). CPSC: Bethesda, MD; 2013 July 2.
8. NSW Child Death Review Team. Child deaths: Drowning deaths in private swimming pools in NSW. NSW Ombudsman: Sydney. 2012 April.