Pool Safety

Safety in the Pool for the Whole Family

As the temperatures keep increasing, many of us are dreaming of vacation time or a weekend at the pool. Some of us are even lucky enough to have a pool in our own backyard. Pools are especially fun for children since they are a great way to cool off and get some excellent exercise with friends. While pools have many benefits, parents and grandparents forget that a pool can easily be the dangerous place for children. Very few people know that pools are the third leading cause of death for children under the age of 14 in the United States. Each year, over 815 kids in this age group die from unintentional drowning. Most parents also don’t know that two thirds of all drowning cases happen during the summer, on weekends, during the months between May and August.

If you are a parent or grandparent, this is a very scary statistic. Even worse, the Center for Disease control also states that over 5,000 children nearly die from drowning each year. Out of this group, the majority (76%) of the drowning cases reported by emergency rooms are children under the age of 5. Why are so many children dying in swimming pools?

Swimming Safety: Parent & Grandparents Should Know

Pool Safety
Many parent don’t realize this, but the majority of pool related accidents don’t occur at public swimming pools, but at home. Over 72% of pool submersion deaths and 55% of pool submersion injuries in the United States actually occur at the child’s own home. Out of this number, 84% of these children are under the age of 5. For a parent or grandparent, these statistics are very frightening. Quite a few parents even believe that they can handle a pool or can constantly keep track of their children without buying expensive safety equipment or taking proper precautions. These parents don’t realize that 9 out of 10 cases happen when a parent or caregiver are home. All it takes is for a child to be out of sight for less than five minutes to drown. What is even scarier is that drowning is a silent death for children. In most cases, children are unable to get out of the pool on their own, and make very little noise, making pools a silent and fast killer for children under the age of 5.

If a child goes missing and you have a pool, make it a habit to always check the pool first. Since children make no noise when they are drowning, these few seconds can easily save a child’s life or prevent a fatal accident from occurring. As well, always give detailed instructions to babysitters who are caring for your children, letting them know you have a pool, what is not acceptable, and what to do if your child accidentally falls in the pool. It is also important that a babysitter knows how to use any pool safety equipment you have in case an accident does occur.

Swimming Safety: Making Your Home Pool or Spa Safe

Pool Safety
Buying a pool is a big decision for any family, and with all the safety risks that can occur, it is important that families take it very seriously. Know that if you buy a pool, safety should always be a number one priority. Here are some important tips and musts for any parent or grandparent who is planning on purchasing a pool or already have a pool in their backyard.

  • ,€¢ No matter how old your children are, it is important to have a safety fence around your pool. This fence should be at least four feet high with slats that are close together. A child should not be able to squeeze though the slats. As well, make sure the fence has no handholds or footholds for little climbers. The Center for Disease control says that 50% – 90% of all pool accidents could have been prevented by a pool fence being in place.
  • ,€¢ Gates on the pool should be self closing and self latching gate. If you have a neighbor that has a pool, check to see that they have one of these gates as well to keep little ones out.
  • ,€¢ Always keep a lock on your pool gate to keep little ones and neighborhood kids out of your pool.
  • ,€¢ When your pool is unattended, always have an approved pool cover on the pool. Talk to a pool merchant or the maker of your pool to find the proper cover that fits current safety standards in the United States and Canada. A good pool and spa cover should be able to lock.
  • ,€¢ If your house is part of your pool/backyard fence, have alarms on your doors and windows to keep kids from becoming tempted to sneak into the pool or spa.
  • ,€¢ Make sure your pool or spa drain is compliant with current safety standards. Talk to a pool service provider if you are unsure.
  • ,€¢ Pool toys should never be left in the pool or by the pool. Toys by the pool tempt children. Teach children to take toys out of the pool with them and put them away.
  • ,€¢ Make sure all of your safety equipment is in good condition and where someone can quickly get to them in case of an emergency. They should always be by the pool in season.
  • ,€¢ If you have a portable pool, keep it drained of water when it is not in use.
  • ,€¢ Have a surface wave or underwater alarm installed on your pool. This will sound an alarm if anyone enters the pool or falls in the water.
  • ,€¢ Every adult in your household should know how to perform CPR on adults and children, first aid, and what to do in case of a pool emergency. It is recommended that parents get recertified every few years.

Pool Safety: Safety for Kids

Pool Safety
While pools may be very scary to parents and grandparents, following proper pool safety can prevent almost all drowning cases. Once you have the pool and your home properly secured, it is time to make sure that children know what is necessary to keep themselves safe in the pool. Before entering a pool, children should be taught that an adult should always supervise them. Even if they are swimming with friends, it is important to have an adult available who knows how to swim. That adult should not only know how to swim, but have a mobile phone with them at all times in case of an emergency. Also make sure that the adult with your children knows to keep their full attention on the pool and not leave the children attended for any reason. Children should also be taught that if an adult is leaving, they should leave the pool. Most children, if the rules have been stressed to them, are very happy to remind adults of their rules!

Parents should also have children in official swimming lessons as soon as possible if they are planning on owning a pool or visiting a pool frequently. While you may think you can teach your child how to swim, it is better if it is done by a professional, since they will teach children not only swimming, but pool safety. Children will learn what to do if they have a friend who needs help and what things not to do when playing in the pool. It is also crucial that parents never think a child under the age of eight should be left alone in the pool, even if they know how to swim. It is very common for parents to overestimate their child’s swimming ability, causing children to get in trouble that could potentially be life threatening.

It is also important for children to be told what to do if they accidentally fall in the pool. Many children, when they fall, will begin to panic, or swim for the far side of the pool. These actions lead to most small children who know how to swim drowning. Instead, teach children to go back to the side of the pool where they fell, and hang onto the nearest ledge while they call for a parent. If they are older and can get out of the pool themselves, encourage them climb out on a ladder (if one is present).

When in the pool, never substitute flotation devices for safety equipment. If a child does not know how to swim, they should be in a life jacket at all times. Flotation devices are fine if children are within arm’s reach of an adult, but they are toys, not safety devices. As a rule of thumb, children under the age of five should always be in arms reach of an adult to prevent drowning. Even in a life jacket, children should never be left alone!
If proper pool safety is used, a pool can be a very fun addition to any family’s backyard. Make sure that everyone in your family knows how to swim and knows proper pool safety. It doesn’t matter if you are someone, who visits a pool on the weekend or are planning on buying a pool, pool safety is a must. Once children and your entire family know proper pool safety, everyone can relax and enjoy a nice dip in the pool this summer!

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