Swimming in Backyard Pools
Every year close to 300 children less than 5 years old accidentally drown in backyard swimming pools. Some drown in their parent’s pool and some in relative or friends pools. 2000 young people survive near drowning, many resulting in permanent brain damage. Drowning and near drowning occurs in an extremely short time. Usually the parent or care giver is busy with other things, such as the laundry, talking on the phone or yard work when the young child wanders to the pool, falls in, usually quietly, and suffocates (drowns). To protect your child or your neighbor’s children, follow these safety tips.
Have your children learn to swim.
Learn how to swim yourself if you don’t already know how to.This will make you more comfortable around the pool while supervising children.
Closely supervise young children in and around the pool.
Have a 4 foot tall (minimum) fence around the pool to keep small children from wandering into the pool area and water.
If the house is part of the protection barrier, the door leading from the house to the pool should be protected with an alarm or the pool should have a power safety cover.
The fence should have no hand or foot holds that can allow young children 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 3/4 inches.
Fence gates should be self-closing and safe-latching.The gate should be well maintained to close and latch easily. The latch should be out of a child’s reach.
Install an alarm (signal) that will indicate that someone has opened the gate or door leading to the pool. If you also install a key pad on/off switch for the alarm, place it above the child’s reach.
Power covers are pool covers on a powered roller that keep things out of the pool when the pool is not in use. To be effective, the cover must cover the pool tight enough so the child cannot slip under it, and that rain water will drain so the child can’t fall on top of a cover filled with six or more inches of water. Make sure that any cover you purchase meets or exceeds the ASTM requirement and performance standards.
One of the requirements is that the cover must be strong enough to hold two adults and one child in time of a rescue.
For more information on covers contact: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Pool Barrier, Office of Information and Public Affairs, Washington, DC 20207 at 800-638-2772.
Have a reaching pole and a throwing rope at pool side to reach or toss to a struggling swimmer.
Have safety drills so you can react effectively in the event of a real emergency.
Teach children which end is deep and dangerous and which end is shallow and less dangerous. Teach them the importance of having fun and being safety-minded at the same time. Teach them to enter the water feet-first safely at the shallow end.
Establish safety rules and enforce them consistently.
Keep the pool water clear at all times so that if someone does fall in the water, the victim can be seen by rescuers. The following tip is very important: if the pool is cloudy green a child won’t be seen by rescuers and they might not even look for the child in the water until it is too late.
Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid.