For the better part of a decade, I owned a house with a pool in the backyard, and for the better part of a decade, my father-in-law told me he laid awake at night worrying that one of the kids would fall into the pool, that some tragic accident would happen because accidents happen even when everyone does everything perfectly. (And really, who can do everything perfectly?) When I sold and moved out of that house—for a variety of reasons including that pool upkeep was difficult and expensive—he told me he would finally be able to get a good night’s sleep. I told him I was happy to be rid of the work that comes with a pool.
Then the pandemic hit, and the world shut down—the summer camps and town pools I’d been planning to use to keep my kids busy closed for the foreseeable future, and my kids and I were left looking at each other, wondering what do we do now?
The answer: buy an inflatable pool.
Within days of clicking “buy now” on Amazon, inflatable pools were sold out. Apparently a large swath of America had the same idea I’d had—to spend a pandemic summer wading in an impermanent pool and trying to make the best out of an imperfect summer.
And suddenly my father-in-law had a reason to stay awake worrying again (sorry). Because just because a pool is an inflatable pool, maybe the kind purchased on Amazon and filled with a hose in the backyard, doesn’t mean the drowning risks aren’t exactly the same as they would be with a more permanent pool.
“Water safety vigilance remains as important as ever, especially in light of ongoing public health concerns and community restrictions related to COVID-19,” said U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Acting Chairman Robert Adler, in a press release earlier this year. “Our latest report confirms that most child drownings take place at home during the summer months. This year, with more families spending time at home, the delayed opening of many public pools, and a pause on many traditional group swimming lessons, I urge everyone to take critical safety steps to reverse the upward trend in fatal child drownings.”