updated 5/17/2006 1:58:33 PM ET 2006-05-17T17:58:33

The number of children drowning in inflatable pools has increased as the pools have gotten bigger, according to safety officials who warn that inflatable pools pose the same dangers as other types.

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Because inflatable pools have become larger, owners do not empty them every night, increasing the risk, Consumer Product Safety Commission spokeswoman Julie Vallese explained. The pools — ranging in size from small wading pools to 4-foot-deep, 18-foot-wide aboveground pools — appear to have grown more popular over the past several years, the CPSC says.

Seventeen children drowned in inflatable pools in 2005, according to CPSC. This is up from nine in 2004 and 10 in 2003.

In all types of pools, about 280 children under age 5 die each year, CPSC said.

The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals, a trade group for the industry, does not track inflatable pool sales, spokeswoman Suzanne Barrows said. But she agreed that their popularity seems to be growing.

The association recommends layers of protection and responsible adult supervision for all pools. Safety standards for the larger inflatable pools are the same as for other aboveground pools, Barrows said. One of the organization’s committees is looking into establishing standards specifically for larger inflatable pools, she added.

CPSC recommends barriers such as fences to surround inflatable pools, and door alarms if a house forms one of this barrier’s walls. Vallese also emphasized the importance of constant supervision when children are in the pool.

Barrows said pool owners can call the association for safety information at 800-323-3996.

Pool ladder recall
Also Wednesday, a recall of about 320,000 Simple-Set pool ladders for inflatable pools was announced, because the ladders’ support clips can be assembled upside down, causing them to break under weight. The ladders are imported by Aqua-Leisure Industries. There are six reported injuries associated with these ladders, including a concussion and fractured ribs.

The ladders were included with Aqua Leisure Simple-Set inflatable pools ranging in size from 12 to 18 feet in diameter. Each step of the ladders has “Aqua Leisure” molded into its surface.

The pool sets, including the ladders, were sold at discount department and toy stores around the country between January 2002 and August 2005. Consumers should contact the company for a free repair kit by calling 866-807-3998. For more information visit www.aqualeisure.com or www.cpsc.gov.

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