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May/June 2008

Protection from Portable Pool Risks Provided by New Standard

Child in poolWhile all swimming pools pose certain risks, a new ASTM International standard focuses on specific issues presented by portable pools, which have become more popular and accessible to consumers in recent years. The standard, F2666, Specification for Aboveground Portable Pools for Residential Use, was developed by Subcommittee F15.60 on Portable Pools, under the jurisdiction of ASTM International Committee F15 on Consumer Products.

Consumers can purchase an inexpensive portable pool at a toy store or other retailer and set it up immediately. “Portable pools present a drowning risk, but unlike in-ground pools, they are not likely to be surrounded by a barrier that would keep people, especially young children, away from the pool,” says Carol Pollack-Nelson, a human factors psychologist and safety consultant who serves on several ASTM committees, including F15. There are several reasons why a portable pool may not be surrounded by a protective barrier: including: 1) consumers may not be aware of the need for a barrier due to low perceived risk of hazard stemming from the visual barrier created by the sides of the pool and low awareness of portable pool drowning deaths; and 2) the prohibitive cost of a permanent barrier, such as a fence, compared to the relatively low cost of a portable pool.

The standard sets out performance requirements, including the ability of the pools to resist horizontal and vertical forces that could cause the pool to collapse. In addition, F2666 requires that ladders sold with portable pools meet the applicable requirements found in ANSI/APSA-4, Standard for Aboveground/Onground Residential Swimming Pools.

Other areas covered by F2666 include the following:

  • Requirements related to the accessibility of air valves, small parts and sharp edges;
  • All pool covers that are labeled as “safety cover” must comply with F1346, Performance Specification for Safety Covers and Labeling Requirements for All Covers for Swimming Pools, Spas and Hot Tubs, while pool covers that are not called safety covers must carry a prominent warning;
  • Smaller pools that do not have a pump and filter must have an efficient means of removing water;
  • Pools that do have a pump and filter must provide minimum necessary filtration equipment to keep the pool clean and must also include a ground fault circuit interrupter as an integral part of the power supply to the pump;
  • Pools with pumps must be designed to prevent suction and entrapment hazards; and
  • Requirements related to warning and product instructions.

Pollack-Nelson says that manufacturers of portable pools will use F2666 and that retailers will be able to rely on it when setting specifications for products that they are willing to bring into their stores for sale to consumers.

F2666 is the first in a projected series of standards that will cover safety pool covers, affordable alarms and barriers that work for portable pools and other future technology. Subcommittee F15.60 on Portable Pools welcomes participation from all interested parties, particularly retailers.


Technical Information: Carol Pollack-Nelson, Independent Safety Consulting, Rockville, Md.

Phone: 301/340-2912

ASTM Staff: Leonard Morrissey

Phone: 610/832-9719