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City: be careful with shallow, inexpensive pools

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They are inexpensive, knee-high, easy to set up and look more like wading pools.

So-called quick-set, soft-side pools of plastic or inflatable rubber are a staple of summer back yards, especially where small children are concerned.

And Ogdensburg code enforcement and fire officials want people who own them to be careful with them and make sure they are complying with the law.

According to Code Enforcement Officer Gregg A. Mallette, state law requires that quick-set pools that are 24 inches or higher require a $35 permit issued by his office for installation, must be surrounded by a four-foot-high fence and have installed on them motion-activated alarms for when they are not in use.

Mr. Mallette said that people — especially the parents of small children — should never be deceived by the simplicity of the pools. Whether they have

soft walls that take shape when filled with water or are inflatable with an inner tube-like ring, there can be no ignoring their hazardous potential.

“You can drown in any one of them,” Mr. Mallette said. “I just can’t argue that enough.”

Since the pools are usually located in a back yard and are not visible from the street, Mr. Mallette said it is often a concerned neighbor who notifies his office about the presence of an illicit soft-side pool.

“We do get calls,” he said.

Mr. Mallette said those in violation pay $70, double the cost of a permit.

We’ve written up a couple already,” he said.

Fire Chief Michael J. Farrell shares Mr. Mallette’s concern that quick-set pools can be a danger as much as a source of fun for small children.

Tragedies have occurred, he pointed out, in another seemingly harmless setting.

“Children can drown in bathtubs,” Mr. Farrell said. “Absolutely, keep an eye on your children at all times.”

For more information about the city’s pool regulations, call the code enforcement office at 393-1935.

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