Swimming Pool Safety
Now that school is out for the summer and the weather is heating up, many of us have or will be getting our swimming pools ready for our families to enjoy. I remember when my children were young, they wanted to spend as much time as possible playing in our above-ground pool during the summer. Pools are a wonderful thing for families to have, but please don’t allow a fun thing to turn tragic. It only takes a couple of minutes for a small child to get out the door and into the family swimming pool, so please take all necessary precautions to keep your family and neighborhood children safe.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, CPSC, about 300 children under five years old drown in swimming pools every year, and most often the drowning occurs in the family’s own swimming pool. In addition, more than 2,000 children in that age group are treated annually in hospital emergency rooms for submersion injuries.
The CPSC conducted a comprehensive study of drowning and submersion incidents involving children under 5 years old in Arizona, California, and Florida. In that study, it was learned that 75% of the submersion victims studied were between 1 and 3 years of age. 65% of this group were boys. Toddlers, in particular, often do something unexpected because their capabilities change daily. At the time of the incidents, most victims were being supervised by one or both parents. 46% of the victims were last seen in the house. 23% were last seen in the yard or on the porch or patio; and 31% were in or around the pool before the accident. In all, 69% of the children were not expected to be at or in the pool, yet they were found in the water.
Submersion incidents involving children usually happen in familiar surroundings. 65% of the incidents happened in a pool owned by the child’s family and 33% of the incidents happened in a pool owned by friends or relatives. That means that 98% of the submersion incidents occurred either at home, a relative’s home, or at the home of a friend. They didn’t happen in lakes, rivers, or other bodies of water. They happened in a swimming pool in a backyard.
The study also learned that pool submersions involving children happen quickly. A child can drown in the time it takes to answer a phone. Seventy-seven percent of the victims had been missing from sight for 5 minutes or less. Survival depends on rescuing the child quickly and restarting the breathing process, even while the child is still in the water. Seconds count in preventing death or brain damage. Child drowning is a silent death. There’s normally no splashing to alert anyone that the child is in trouble.
Here are some tips to help to protection the children in your home,
Install a fence or other barrier, such as a wall, completely around the pool. If the house is part of the barrier, the doors leading from the house to the pool should be protected with an alarm or the pool should have a power safety cover.
The fence or other barrier should be at least 4-feet high. It should have no foot- or handholds that could help a young child to climb it.
Vertical fence slats should be less than 4 inches apart to prevent a child from squeezing through. If the fence is chain link, then no part of the diamond-shaped opening should be larger than 1-3/4 inches.
Fence gates should be self-closing and self-latching. The gate should be well maintained to close and latch easily. The latch should be out of a child’s reach.
If the house forms one side of the barrier, then doors leading from the house to the pool should be protected with alarms that produce an audible sound for at least 30 seconds when a door is unexpectedly opened.
Install an alarm that can be temporarily turned off by an adult for a single opening of the door by using a keypad or switch that is out of a child’s reach.
On above-ground pools, steps and ladders leading from the ground to the pool should be secured and locked, or removed when the pool is not in use.
Although, doing these things will not ensure the safety of your children, they will certainly enhance their safety.