Pool and Water Safety
By Dr. Sally Robinson and Dr. Keith Bly
The Texas heat is startin’ to sizzle, and ahhh . . . the joy of cool refreshing water in a swimming pool right outside the back door of your home on a hot summer day! This can be bliss for your family and friends if all the correct safety measures are in place to protect children against entering the pool without proper supervision.
According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, drowning is the second leading cause of death among U.S. children and teens. Teaching your child to swim does not necessarily make him or her safe in the water. Unlike the movies, drowning children rarely thrash about but rather slip quietly under the surface of the water. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that 77 % of the children had been missing 5 minutes or less before being discovered in the pool.
Different methods of protection can be put into place that will create as close to a fail safe system as possible. Supervision is the best method, but even that isn’t foolproof. In most cases of death or injury, one or both parents were supervising the child when the accident occurred.
There are other measures that when employed offer secondary levels of protection. Some of these extra layers of protection include: A fence completely surrounding the pool; locks placed high on the gates leading to the pool; alarms on the gates; swimming lessons when your child becomes mobile; and CPR in case there is an accident.
CPSC offers the following tips for pool owners:
- Never leave a child unsupervised near a pool, bathtub, whirlpool tub, or any water activities.
- Instruct babysitters about potential hazards to young children in and around swimming pools and bathtubs and the need for constant supervision around water.
- Completely fence the pool. Install self-closing and self-latching gates. Position latches out of reach of young children. Keeping all doors and windows leading to the pool area secure to prevent small children from getting to the pool. Effective barriers and locks are necessary preventive measures, but there is no substitute for supervision.
- Do not use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision.
- Never use a pool with its pool cover partially in place, since children may become entrapped under it. Remove the cover completely, or purchase a pool cover with an alarm, a product that’s now readily available.
- Place tables and chairs well away from the pool fence to prevent children from climbing into the pool area.
- Keep toys away from the pool area. They entice children to wander near the pool and could cause an accidental fall into the water.
- Remove steps to above ground pools when not in use.
- Have a telephone at poolside to avoid having to leave children unattended in or near the pool to answer a telephone elsewhere. Keep emergency numbers at the poolside telephone.
- Learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).
- Keep rescue equipment by the pool.
Even though supervising children in the pool can be challenging, you will feel better knowing that these security measures are in place to help make the time in and around your pool as safe as possible.
Read about children "Staying Home Alone" here ...