Portable pools, including inflatable and wading pools are dangerous for young children.
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 and his team looked at data compiled by the U.S. 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 5 years old, and most were in the child's own yard in the summer months.
While this doesn't suggest that families shouldn't use inflatable or wading pools, he added that parents "need to put some thought into the safety issues
when they go to the store, pick one of these up, and put them up in their backyard."
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 chores or a phone call.
Parents "can't say they're supervising (if they're) having a couple drinks at a pool and chatting with their friends or talking on a cell phone," said Linda Quan, a drowning expert.
She recommended that parents take steps such as having children wear a life jacket near the pool, making sure the children have no access to the pool when the parents aren't around, and perhaps even empty the pool, especially smaller pools.
Fences and restricting access to ladders into the pool were also good steps. But covering inflatable pools is only of limited protection and the researchers said that in at least one case, two children in the study drowned together when they got tangled in a pool cover.
Smith said the most important message is that parents need to take the risks of these pools very seriously, even if the pool is small and only has a few feet of water.Do you use a portable pool during summer?