The plastic blow-up kiddie pool is a staple of summer, found in backyards from coast to coast. Most hold a few inches of water, and toddlers can play in them and keep cool. What could be simpler?
You shouldn't let the fact that your child is splashing around in shallow water give you a false sense of security. Kids can drown in as little as an inch of water. And, more shockingly, nine out of 10 drownings occur when a child is being supervised while swimming.
According to The Early Show consumer reporter Susan Koeppen, kiddie pools, even the small, blow-up sort, "should be treated just like an in-ground pool. Kids always need to be supervised when they're in a kiddie pool," she advised. "And when it's not in use, you should dump out the water."
Furthermore, she said, "You should always have pools within a fenced-in area. Even a kiddie pool. The fence should be at least five feet high so kids can't climb over and the gate should be one that closes on its own and locks."
One major misconception about drowning is that it's accompanied by thrashing and screaming. But, Koeppen said, "Drowning is usually silent. Also, people think that drownings happen when a child is unsupervised. But, nine out of 10 drownings happen when a child is being supervised. Often, people make the mistake of thinking someone else is supervising, so make sure you communicate if you need to leave the pool area. It can happen in the blink of an eye, so you need to always be so careful around water."
One gadget that can help back up adult supervision is a pool alarm.
"There is a device that is called the Safety Turtle (www.safetyturtle.com). You have a home base and you put the alarm on your child's wrist. If he falls into the water, the alarm will go off. This is great for travel. This costs $235 with one wristband (and $60 for additional wrist bands)," said Koeppen.
You can also buy alarms that are made for in-ground or above-ground pools, she said. "If someone goes in the water, an alarm will go off. You can also buy alarms for your pool gate or your back door so you will know if someone is going to the pool area. These range in price from $60 to $200 (www.poolguard.com)."
Another summer risk for kids is sunburn, which is exacerbated when they're playing in water.
According to Koeppen, "There are some new sunscreens on the market. There is a Coppertone continuous spray (www.coppertone.com, cost: $8-$9), and this works really well if you have kids who like to run around and they don't want to sit still for you to put on the sunscreen. It also works well if you are alone and need to get those hard to reach areas like your back."
The people who make Huggies disposable diapers have a new product, Little Swimmers Sun Sensors(www.littleswimmers.com, $3.99) which are cute stickers your child wears on their body or clothing; they change color as your child is exposed to the sun, so you'll know when to get them out of the sun or reapply sunscreen.
There is even clothing you can buy that has SPF built into the fabric, said Koeppen. "You can feel confident that the sun's rays are not getting through the material, which can happen. (www.coolibar.com, rompers-$30, swimset $40)."
Copyright 2007 CBS. All rights reserved.