Pool Safety

A swimming pool can be a fun family area. Unfortunately, it can also be the site of injuries and accidental deaths for children. Drowning is the number-one cause of death for children under five in Florida, Arizona, and California. It is the second leading cause in over a dozen other states. For every drowning fatality, there are eleven near-drownings. Many of these children suffer significant brain damage. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends pools not be installed in homes with children under five, if possible.

If a pool is present, however, relying upon supervision alone means gambling with your child's life. A study of home drownings of children under 5 conducted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission found that 69% occurred under parental supervision. In 65% of these cases, drowning occurred in the family pool, and 77% of these children had been seen just 5 minutes earlier. Drownings occur quickly and often silently. Even small lapses in supervision, such as running to answer the phone or having a conversation, provide ample opportunity for youngsters to enter the water undetected.

You should come up with several pool methods to maintain your child's safety around the pool. Full protection comes from a combination of safety devices and emergency preparation. Safe pool areas are created by:

* Installing alarm systems on access doors.
* Outfitting all access doors with high locks, and top locks on sliding glass doors.
* Using either a floating pool alarm or motion-sensitive alarm to monitor unsupervised pool activity.
* Installing a safety barrier:
1. Select self-closing, self-locking gates on fencing
2. Use 4-foot-high pool fencing
3. Install support poles 30 inches apart
4. Installing a power safety cover that meets the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
5. Moving climbable objects, such as lawn furniture, away from the pool area.
* Keeping rescue equipment (such as a shepherd's hook or life preserver) and a telephone by the pool.
* Removing objects that could be attractive to a toddler out of the water.
* Learning CPR and rescue techniques.
* Enrolling children in water survival training courses that focus on:
o Independent departure from the pool.
o Rolling over and floating on their backs.
o Navigating to the pool sides, hanging on or getting out.

While supervision is always a must, having several safety methods in place provides coverage in case you have a momentary lapse when watching your child. To ensure the quality of your safety system, periodically check locks, alarms, and barriers. Monitor the pool area regularly, making sure no toys or climbable structures are ever left behind. A pool is a wonderful play area for the whole family, as long as it is kept safe.

-- Catie Hayes

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