CPSC Advises Consumers On Swimming Pool Safety

April 29, 1976
Release Number: 76-029

As warmer weather approaches, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reminds adults and children to use care around swimming pools and related equipment. Last year, an estimated 56,000 persons required hospital emergency room treatment for injuries associated with swimming pools, swimming pool slides, and diving boards.

According to the Commission's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), which monitors 119 hospital emergency rooms nation- wide and then projects a national estimate of injuries, 27 percent of all swimming pool injuries treated and 33 percent of all diving board injuries treated last year occurred to children between 10 and 14 years of age, Of the reported injuries associated with swimming pool slides, 37 percent occurred to children between 5 and 9 years of age. Males accounted for 63 percent of these swimming pool injuries, 72 percent of the diving board injuries, and 56 percent of all the swimming pool slide injuries, Most often these persons were treated in the hospital emergency room and then released, the most common injury being lacerations to the face and head. It is important to note, however, that these figures do not reflect injuries treated in lifeguard stations, at home, in doctors' offices, health clinics, or after direct hospital admission. The National Safety Council estimates that 300 people drown in home swimming pools each year.

The major accident patterns associated with swimming pools include falling on slippery walkways, decks, diving boards or ladders; striking the bottom or sides of the pool because of insufficient depth for diving or sliding; and, drowning when swimming alone and without adult supervision.

A mandatory safety standard affecting the manufacture and construction of swimming pool slides, issued by the Commission, takes effect July 17, 1976. The Commission believes that the conflicting risks (1) impact with the bottom of the pool in shallow water, and (2) drowning in deep water, can be best resolved by the standard's criteria which specify shorter slides for children in shallow water and allow taller slides for adults and teenagers in deeper water. In addition to recommending the appropriate water depth under the slide, the CPSC standard requires mandatory instruction signs to educate children and adults on the proper use of slides, as well as signs which identify the nature of the risk of injury associated with slides by graphically showing the potential for injury if the instructions are ignored.

The Commission offers these tips to insure the safe construction, use and maintenance of swimming pools:

-Use non-slip materials on the deck surrounding your pool and on the diving boards and ladders.

-Have the electrical systems installed by licensed electricians and in accordance with recognized standards for safety.

-Fence in your pool area to prevent access to unsupervised children.

-Place a safety float line where the bottom slope begins to deepen (approximately the five-foot level) ,

-Keep all electrical appliances, such as radios, away from the pool because of the potential shock hazard which they present.

-Learn to swim well!

For further information on pool safety, consumers can request copies of Fact Sheet No. 8: Swimming Pools by calling the Commission's toll-free HOTLINE at 800/638-2772 or by writing U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Washington, D.C. 20207.