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Portable Pools Increase Drowning Risk

Comstock/Thinkstock(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- Just in time for the hot summer months, a new study warns parents that portable pools are not without their risks.

The report, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, evaluated the number of fatal and nonfatal submersions by children under 12 years of age in portable pools.  Using data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for the years 2001 and 2009, the researchers found that 209 children drowned in portable pools during that time.  Thirty-five children had accidents, but survived.

"Over the last decade, we've seen an increase in the number of people who use portable pools, and in many cases, it's our impression that parents may not be aware of their risks," said Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Injury Research and Policy Center at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and lead author of the study.

Seventy-three percent of the accidents happened in the child's own yard, and nearly all of them (94 percent) involved children younger than 5 years old.

Smith said 80 percent of these water accidents occur during the summer months.  A child dies every five days because of drowning in a portable pool.

"Drowning is different than other injuries," said Smith.  "In many other injuries, kids get a second chance.  When they fall on the playground, they may break their arm, but they get a second chance.  Drowning outcomes can be so severe that primary prevention is absolutely essential because it's so quick and final."

These days, most in-ground pools have safety features, including pool covers, detachable ladders, alarms and four-wall fencing.  Most owners must agree to certain local ordinances before and after they've installed a pool.

But portable pools are much cheaper than in-ground, and can cost as little as $50 at local toy or hardware stores.  If someone wanted to install a fence, the process would likely be more expensive than the pool itself.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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