For many children, summer means hitting the pool. And for the most part, parents can feel confident that swimming pools provide a safe source of fun for kids enjoying their break from school.
In too many cases, though, danger lurks in pools in the form of potential injuries and illnesses. Some of the latest research on water safety may shake your confidence in pools as a great summer hangout for your children.
- Drownings and Injuries Take a Heavy Toll
According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 3,500 drownings not related to boating occur each year in the United States. Children younger than 14 constitute about 20 percent of drowning victims. For every child drowning fatality, another five children receive treatment in emergency departments for injuries related to submersion in water.
More than half of submersion-injury patients who receive treatment in emergency rooms need hospitalization or additional care. Children who survive near-drownings can suffer serious injuries, including brain damage — along with related, long-term disabilities in learning, memory and overall functioning.
- Dirty Water Closes Pools, Hot Tubs
The National Institutes of Health reported recently that thousands of public hot tubs, public pools and water parks close each year due to severe violations of safety and health regulations. A study conducted in five pool-heavy states revealed that one in eight inspections resulted in an urgent closing because of serious violations. Children’s pools demonstrated the highest number of problems; government inspectors closed 20 percent of them because of violations.
- ‘Clean Pools’ Also Pose Hazards
Even pools with adequate disinfection present risks for your children. University of South Carolina researchers reported recently that the disinfection products used in pools can produce dangerous byproducts when they combine with bodily fluids and toiletries. Some of the byproducts can increase the risk of asthma complications and colds, and they may even cause more-serious health problems.
Pools and kids seem like a natural fit for summer. But before you let your children spend every day swimming, consider the alarming implications of the latest research.