Study: Portable pools as risky as in-ground pools

June 20, 2011 2:49:31 PM PDT
The lead researcher of a new U.S. study on drownings says a child dies every five days in a portable pool during the warm-weather months.

They may be great way to beat the heat, however, portable or inflatable pools could be more dangerous than previously thought.

That's according to the first-ever study on the pools, being published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

It shows every 5 days during the summer, a child drowns in a portable pool.

More than 90 percent involve children under the age of 5, and three-quarters of them are in the child's own back yard.

Another tragic fact is that in 4 out of 10 cases, the children were under adult supervision, however, the adult became distracted for a moment.

The study, conducted by researchers at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus and Independent Safety Consulting in Rockville, Md. calls for effective and affordable protection devices for the pools, which range from small wading pools to large inflatable and other soft-sided pools.

It says 209 children under 12 died and 35 nearly drowned from 2001 to 2009. Ninety-four percent of the children were younger than 5. The numbers are comparable with findings for in-ground pools.

To prevent drownings, safety experts say kids should never be left alone in water.... And for small children, parents should stay within an arm's length distance.

New Castle County, Delaware, is one of the few communities with regulations on portable and inflatable pools. They are regulated under land use codes. Owners are required to get a permit, as they do for in-ground and above-ground pools. And any pool more than 2 feet deep must be surrounded by a fence. Officials say they enacted the code, after realizing some years ago that children could drown in the small pools.

The code can be seen at

The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals in Alexandria, Va., agrees with the report's findings, underscoring the importance of constant adult supervision supplemented by safety devices.


- The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital:
- Association of Pool & Spa Professionals: