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Portable paddling pools pose drowning danger

In-ground pools are often seen as the biggest drowning danger for children, but a study has warned that portable pools, including inflatable and wading pools, are just as dangerous -- especially for younger children.

In fact, between 2001 and 2009, a child drowned in a portable backyard pool once every five days during the summer months, according to the study in pediatrics.

"Parents need to be aware that these pools can present the same risks for drowning, especially for young children, as in-ground pools," which are typically thought of as a bigger danger, said study author Gary Smith.


Smith, head of the centre for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and his team looked at data compiled by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission for cases of drowning or near-drowning in these types of pool that were reported to the commission.

Over the nine years from 2001 to 2009, they found records of 209 deaths from submersion and 35 non-fatal cases in children aged 11 and younger. The number of drowning cases increased between 2001 and 2005, but has levelled off in recent years.

Almost all of those happened in children under five years old, and most were in the child's own yard in the summer months.

"That's a child every five days that is drowning in a backyard portable pool during the summer months," Smith said.

The authors found cases of drowning where children opened the doors of their houses and climbed into the pool using a ladder or other nearby object, as well as examples of children playing in the pool when parents were nearby but were distracted by housework or a phone call.