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Pool Safety Tips

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Updated January 27, 2012

A beautiful blue pool in the backyard is an invigorating pleasure on a hot afternoon. Relaxing in the spa after work is a welcome reward for a busy day. Unfortunately, both of these can be as deadly as they are inviting. One- to four-year-olds are more likely to drown in a residential swimming pool than any other body of water. Many were spotted in the house less than five minutes before they drowned and mom or dad were home.

Preparation is the key to prevent drowning or near-drowning incidents. Installing proper safety precautions and making sure that emergency equipment is near will help ensure a safe and refreshing swim or soak.

One good rule for every household is to never swim alone. In addition to this golden rule of always swimming with a companion, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission makes these suggestions for keeping your pool or spa safe for children:

  • Fences and walls should be at least 4 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. Keep furniture that could be used for climbing into the pool area away from fences.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Keep rescue equipment by the pool and be sure a phone is poolside with emergency numbers posted. Knowing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can be a lifesaver.

  • Don't leave pool toys and floats in the pool or pool area that may attract young children to the water.

  • For above-ground pools, steps and ladders to the pool should be secured and locked, or removed when the pool is not in use.

  • If a child is missing, always look in the pool first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.

  • Pool alarms can be used as an added precaution. Look for alarms that meet the requirements of the ASTM standard. The commission 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.

  • To prevent body entrapment and hair entrapment/entanglement, have a qualified pool professional inspect the drain suction fittings and covers on your pool and spa to be sure that they are the proper size, properly attached, and meet current safety standards.

  • If your pool or spa has a single drain outlet, consider installing a safety vacuum release system that breaks the vacuum to avoid potential entrapment conditions.

Sources:

Brenner RA, Trumble AC, Smith GS, Kessler EP, Overpeck MD. Where children drown, United States, 1995. Pediatrics 2001

Present P. Child drowning study. A report on the epidemiology of drowning in residential pools to children under age five. Washington (DC): Consumer Product Safety Commission (US) 1987.

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