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Experts warn that pools pose a different type of danger this summer

July 08, 2020 - 9:05 am
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By ANGELINE JANE BERNABE, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- With the coronavirus pandemic putting a pause on summer vacations and camps this year, many families have turned to purchasing pools for their homes to cool down and still have fun.

This year alone, pool sales have increased more than 160%, according to industry estimates. In addition, the NPD Group reported that sales of outdoor and sports toys surged by $193 million in April.

"I'm pretty sure we got the last above-ground pool in North America," said Ashley Best-Raiten, a mother of two from Pennsylvania, describing the high demand for pools this summer.

Best-Raiten added that she is also taking pool safety seriously this summer, even if hers is an above-ground pool.

"It's still a pool," she said. "It still has regular pool rules."

With the uptick in sales, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is putting a spotlight on how child drownings may increase.

In a May news release, the American Academy of Pediatrics noted how caregivers may be distracted while juggling work, responsibilities and childcare.

"With parents working from home and trying to provide that supervision of their children while working, it leads to more opportunities for children to get out of the house and to get to a pool or a body of water," Dr. Patrick Mularoni, an emergency physician at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital, told ABC News' Good Morning America.

This year so far, All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, has reported a 150% increase in child drowning incidents compared to the same time period in the last two years.

Emily Friske, of California, was faced with that nightmare just last month.

Friske said she thought her daughter, Addie, was inside with Friske's husband, who was working from home at the family's home in Valley Center, California. Unbeknownst to her parents, Addie had wandered into the family pool.

"It's every parent's worst nightmare," Friske told GMA. "She was on her side. She wasn't breathing."

For more than 20 minutes, Friske's daughter was without a pulse. Friske, a former EMT, performed CPR with her husband until an ambulance arrived.

Addie's doctors figured that she would have brain damage, but she miraculously survived, according to Friske, who is now working to raise awareness about pool safety.

Friske's advice to adults is to, "Please learn CPR."

Experts say that in addition to learning CPR and making sure children know how to swim, other ways to implement safety around pools this summer include never leaving a child unattended in or near water.

Also, make sure there are proper barriers, like covers and alarms, on and around any pool or spa that kids might have access to and tell children to stay away from pool drains.

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