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CPSC Warns Consumers Of Potential Drowning Hazard Posed By Solar Pool Covers Used On Swimming Pools

Release Date: August 05, 1980

 The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission today issued a national alert to warn consumers of the risk of swimming in pools partially covered with ""solar pool covers.""

Following reports of a tragic triple-drowning accident at a suburban San Francisco home this summer, Commission staff members are strongly urging consumers never to swim in pools which partially are covered by such solar pool covers.

On June 21, a 30-year-old woman and her two sons, aged five and two years, drowned when they apparently became entrapped under the solar pool cover. CPSC staff members currently are investigating the tragedy and other incidents which may have involved similar circumstances.

A "solar pool cover" is a buoyant, translucent plastic cover designed to be cut to fit the shape of an individual swimming pool. It is placed flat upon the surface of the pool water to heat the water through passive solar energy from the sun. Advertisements suggest that these devices also are capable of reducing evaporation of water from the pool.

CPSC staff members are informed of four additional deaths by drowning in recent years which were related to pool covers of various types, including solar pool covers. There also is one report of a pet dog which fell into a swimming pool and drowned beneath a solar pool cover.

CPSC staff members estimate that perhaps several hundred thousand of these solar pool covers have been sold nationwide, predominantly within the past few years. The cost of each pool cover can average $20.0 or more, depending on the size of the pool's surface: in some cases, the covers are sold as original equipment when the pool is installed.

Swimmers who swim under part of a solar pool cover risk surfacing into the device and being unable to breathe. In attempting to find air, it is possible that swimmers might become disoriented and unintentionally swim further under the pool cover.

As the peak of the summer swimming season arrives, the Commission is urging pool owners never to leave such a pool cover partially in place. Swimmers should not enter a pool where there may be a solar cover partially covering the water's surface.

As it completes its investigation. CPSC simultaneously will consider regulatory options available under the authority of the Consumer Product Safety Act. If the investigation concludes that a regulatory approach is appropriate, various alternatives could include recalling all such products that present a substantial hazard; requiring that these products meet certain safety standards: or if such standards are not possible, banning such products. CPSC also might require such products to display prominent warning labels.

If consumers wish to provide additional information to CPSC on swimming pool solar covers and their potential danger, they may call CPSC's toll-free Hotline at 800-638-2772.

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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC’s work to ensure the safety of consumer products has contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 40 years.

Federal law bars any person from selling products subject to a publicly-announced voluntary recall by a manufacturer or a mandatory recall ordered by the Commission.

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