ConsumerReports.org, the Web site for the nonprofit
organization dedicated to promoting product safety, has
released a report calling inflatable pools
“drowning hazards” and warning parents
not to purchase these pools for children.
Published in February, the article, called
“Surprise Hazards,” featured eight
products that Consumer Reports recommends parents
to not buy for kids because of “potential injuries
associated with them.”
“Based on independent and unbiased research,
Consumer Reports has identified these products as
being particularly hazardous to babies and
children,” Donald Mays, senior director of product
safety at Consumer Reports, said in a press statement.
“Through testing done at the CR labs, our
engineers and scientists have uncovered hidden safety
problems under foreseeable use conditions.”
The report also recommended fences as “the best
protective measure” against drownings for models
larger than kiddie pools.
Inflatable pools were listed among products such as
trampolines, which caused approximately 98,000 injuries in
2003, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission.
All-terrain vehicles were included. ATVs caused 450 deaths
in 2004, roughly one-third of whom were children under age
In comparison, CPSC reports only 19 known injuries in
the United States caused by inflatable pools since May
2001, though 11 incidents resulted in death. In July 2005,
another death was reported in Canada due to hair
entrapment. Given those figures, many industry members feel
Consumer Reports’ denouncement of
inflatable pools is unwarranted.
“I would say the numbers from CPSC suggest a
low incident rate compared to some other forms of
recreational products and activities,” said Dwayne
Carreau, vice president of Sofpool, LLC, in Rancho Cordova,
Calif. “The number of injuries compared to
trampolines, for instance, seems hugely
The report comes on the heels of considerable negative
publicity that inflatable pools have received in the
consumer press since last summer. Most notably, two earlier
articles by Consumer Reports and Good
Housekeeping referred to these products as safety
hazards, warned parents about their usage and called for
stricter standards to govern their manufacture and
The concern is that many local building codes require
these pools to be fenced, but the consumer is not made
aware of the law at the time of their purchase. The pools
sell for as little as $50 at some mass retail outlets. Not
only that, but given their large size, owners are unlikely
drain these vessels after each use, creating potential
drowning risks when unattended.
Lately, such reports have been a detriment to
manufacturers of other types of aboveground pools, who said
inflatable pools are getting a bad rap and that the
publicity has affected sales of all aboveground pools.
“The whole industry is taking a hit from these
cheap products being sold at the big boxes,”
Carreau said. “It’s causing us problems
By that, he means his company makes pools with
inflatable top rings that look like many of the products in
question, but do not fall into the same category. In fact,
according to federal barrier code recommendations, his
48-inch pool walls don’t require a fence.
Currently, Consumer Unions, the Washington-based
publisher of Consumer Reports, is working with
ASTM International’s F15 Technical Committee and
other industry groups to produce a new standard for
inflatable pools above 24 inches.