Swimming pools are wonderful complements to summer weather. Few things are better than stepping outside your home for a cool dip, hosting poolside parties or watching your kids play themselves to exhaustion in the water. Most of us understand that pools also pose a danger but it is important to understand the extent of that danger, the components and preventative measures we can take to keep our pools safe.
Consider these sobering facts:
- A child is more than 10 times more likely to die at a home with a pool than at a home with a gun.1
- Most young children who drown wander out of the house and stumble into the pool.2
- Drowning is the number one cause of accidental death for children under 5.3
- There are over 2,000 near drowning incidents each year in the under 5 age group. Medical costs alone range from $4,000 for those who fully recover to over $300,000 for those victims who suffer severe brain damage.4
- Of all preschoolers who drown, 75 percent are missing from sight for five minutes or less. 5
If you know the risk factors, and take measures to address those, your pool can be safe and fun for everyone.
Prevention around the pool and during swimming season:
- Make sure your pool is fenced and secured with a latched gate that cannot be reached by a small child.
- Never prop open your pool gate.
- A portable fence, at least 4 feet high, is a must to protect toddlers, resident, visting otherwise, from stumbling into your pool from inside your home.
- Make sure all children are supervised by an adult at all time. A leading reason many drownings and accidents occur is because supervising adult was momentarily distracted by a phone or food on the stove.
- Make sure all adult care givers who supervise your pool know CPR - this includes grandparents and babysitters.
- Make sure all babysitters and pool 'supervisors' know the safety rules and what to do in an emergency.
- Make sure emergency contact numbers are available.
- Keep a phone at poolside if possible. If not, ignore any calls if it means that children will be left unsupervised.
- Flotation devices, especially inflatable ones, are not a substitute for adult supervision.
- Remove toys from the pool when not in use. Many drownings result from a child reaching for a toy floating enticingly just beyond grasp.
- Make sure that safety equipment is kept by the pool and kept visible and accessible (Shepard's hook, rope, safety ring).
- If a child is missing, look around the pool first. 69 percent of drowning victims were not expected to be in or around the pool when they were found in the water.
1.Freakonomics - Steven Leavitt and Stephen Dubner