I'll be taking my 16-month-old daughter to her grandparents' pool this weekend myself, and I'll definitely be keeping an extremely close eye on her. Actually, many people wrongly assume that the danger of drowning occurs only when the family is outside or using the pool. But, a common scenario takes place when young children leave the house without a parent or caregiver realizing it. Children are drawn to water, not knowing the terrible danger pools can pose.
"Drowning happens quickly and silently, often without any splashing or screaming," according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. "It can occur in just the couple of minutes it takes to answer the telephone." Frightening, I know. But there's more.
More than 250 young children drown in pools each year nationwide, and over half of these incidents occur in June, July and August, most occurring in residential pools in the yards of single-family homes. Another 26,000 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year for near-drowning incidents.
The dangers are real, as you can see, but there's a whole lot we can do. The key to preventing these tragedies is to have layers of protection. This includes placing barriers around your pool to prevent access, using pool alarms, closely supervising your child(ren) and being prepared in case of an emergency.
- Be Aware. Never leave small children unsupervised–even for a few seconds. If a child is missing, always look in the pool first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
- Protect. Put fencing around the pool area to keep people from using the pool without your knowledge. Fences and walls should be at least four feet high and installed completely around the pool. Fence gates should be self-closing and self-latching. The latch should be out of a small child's reach.
- Door Alarms. If your house forms one side of the barrier to the pool, then doors leading from the house to the pool should be protected with alarms that produce a sound when a door is unexpectedly opened.
- Pool alarms. Pool alarms can be used as an added precaution. Underwater pool alarms generally perform better and can be used in conjunction with pool covers. CPSC advises that consumers use remote alarm receivers so the alarm can be heard inside the house or in other places away from the pool area.
- Avoid Hazards. Keep children away from pool filters, as the suction force may injure them or prevent them from surfacing.
- Knowledge. Be sure all pool users know how to swim. Learners should be accompanied by a good swimmer.
- Life-saving equipment. Keep rescue equipment by the pool and be sure a phone is poolside with emergency numbers posted. Knowing CPR can also be a lifesaver. Find someplace like a pool shed to keep a CPR poster as well.
- The Buddy System. Don’t swim alone or allow others to swim alone.
- Remove Hazards. Check the pool area regularly for glass bottles, toys or other potential accident hazards.
- Secure the pool. A power safety cover--a motor-powered barrier that can be placed over the water area--can be used when the pool is not in use. For above-ground pools, steps and ladders to the pool should be secured and locked, or removed when the pool is not in use.
- Electricity. Keep CD players, radios and any other electrical devices away from pools or nearby wet surfaces.
- No Drinking and Diving. Don’t allow anyone who has been drinking alcohol to use the pool.
- Stormy Weather. Stay out of the pool during rain or lightning storms.
- Look Before You Leap. Never dive into an above-ground pool and check the water depth before plunging into an in-ground pool. Keep clear of the area near a diving board.
- Practice Caution. Don’t swim if you’re tired or have just finished eating. Wow, wait--really? After all those years--I guess mom was right!
Hope you found these tips useful. Have a wonderful summer by the pool!