7 Steps to Prevent a Child from Drowning in Your Pool
Nearly 90 children younger than 15 drowned in a pool or spa from January through May of 2018, according to the USA Swimming Foundation. Nearly 75% of the deaths were in home pools.
If that statistic didn’t get your attention, this one will: drowning is the leading cause of death among children age 4 and younger, according to the National Safety Council’s Injury Facts. Most of the deaths occur as the result of children falling into a pool or being left alone in a bathtub.
Since July and August, statistically, are the deadliest months of the year for accidental deaths and it’s also the height of summer, it’s time to review ways to prevent your pool or spa from claiming the life of a child.
1 Erect a Fence Around Your Pool or Spa
By far the single, most important way keep unsupervised children out of your pool/spa is to erect a barrier around it. Texas state law requires that residential pools deeper than 18 inches be enclosed by a fence at least 4- feet high. Fencing can’t be climbable, i.e., made of chain-link or that have horizontal pieces on the outside that can be used as toe holds. The fence can’t have gaps or openings more than 4-inches wide.
2 Same Goes for Above Ground Pools
Above ground pools also must be fenced and gated just like in-ground pools. In addition, the steps or ladders must be lockable or removable and able to be stored in a lockable location.
Above ground pools that are purchased at retail stores and erected in unfenced yards are particularly dangerous. Toddlers have been known to drown in only inches of water. Put these shallower, cheaper pools behind a fence with a locked gate and make sure an adult is present whenever kids are using it. Be aware that municipalities can impose heavy fines on homeowners whose pools do not meet safety codes.
3 Keep Gate Locked When Pool Not in Use
Texas law requires fence gates that automatically swing shut and latch, so they can’t accidently be left ajar. The latch must be installed high enough on the gate that a child can’t reach it, and the gate must swing outward so a child can’t easily open it.
4 Install Alarms
If the house serves as one side of the pool area, state law requires doors and windows opening to the pool area be fitted with alarms that can be heard throughout the house. Not a requirement, but a good idea is to install alarms that alert you when gates to the pool are opened. Also, consider buying an underwater swimming pool alarm system, which uses motion sensors to detect wave activity and alert you when anyone jumps or falls into the pool. Some of these are even portable so you can use them when visiting friends with pools.
5 Keep Rescue Equipment Near and Know CPR
Make sure you have a life ring, rescue tube or life hook (also called a shepherd’s hook) nearby that you can use to pull someone from the water to safety. Adults with swimming pools should know CPR. A number of organizations such as the American Red Cross, fire departments and hospitals offer CPR certification courses.
6 Teach Your Child to Swim
Swim centers and public pools often offer water safety classes to children as young as six months of age. Children should know how to tread water or float, and should be exposed to water and swimming enough so that they don’t panic if they should fall in. Even in a public pool, you can’t just depend on the lifeguards to keep children safe. They need to have the ability to save themselves. Your children will be exposed to water throughout their lifetimes. The ability to swim is vital not only for them, but for their future children as well.
7 Take the Pool Safely Pledge
An organization called Pool Safely will send you a free Pool Safely Tool Kit if you “take the pledge” to follow certain basic safety guidelines; they offer a kid’s version of the pledge, too. This would be a cool way to begin a conversation about swimming safety with your child. Happy swimming!