Inflatable Kiddie Pool Needs A Fence, Pa. Authorities Remind Parents

July 10, 2006

To Suzette Heydt of Allendale, Pa., an inflatable pool seemed like an inexpensive way to provide cool summer fun for her 9-year-old daughter and her roommate’s 23-month-old son.

That was before a code enforcement officer for Salisbury Township told her that she would have to put up a four-foot fence around the pool, which could raise the cost of the $24.99 pool by hundreds of dollars.

“A baby pool, whether it’s a foot deep or three feet, can be even more dangerous than a pool with sturdy side walls that are four feet high,” officer Sandy Nicolo said. “The fact is that children can find a way to get into anything.”

Heydt said she has deflated the pool and doesn’t plan to use it.

Enforcement officers say many people are surprised to learn that some kiddie pools, like in-ground pools, require fences.

Under Pennsylvania’s Uniform Construction Code, pools more than 24 inches deep must be completely enclosed by a fence or a screened enclosure equipped with self-closing and self-latching gates.

Lee Rackus, chief of planning and zoning for Whitehall Township, said she has been explaining the requirements to irate residents for years. “They’re frustrated and upset, but that’s the law,” she said.

Jim Raudenbush, Palmer Township’s code enforcement officer, calls the pools “horrible.”

“I’m constantly, constantly writing letters,” Raudenbush said. “For me, that’s probably the No. 1 battle in the summer.”

In May, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said the number of children drowning in inflatable pools has increased as the pools have become more popular and gotten bigger.

Seventeen children drowned in inflatable pools in 2005, up from nine in 2004 and 10 in 2003, officials said. In all types of pools, about 280 children under age 5 die each year, the commission said.

“I think people don’t realize that there are risks associated with this type of pool,” commission spokeswoman Patty Davis said. “You need to take precautions just as you would with any kind of pool.”

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