Pool Safety Saves Lives
Having a pool in your backyard can be a convenient and fun way to cool off, but it poses risks, too. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that nearly 300 children five years old and younger drown in swimming pools and spas each year. Many hundreds more are taken to the hospital due to pool-related injuries.
Knowing about pool safety is crucial, especially when your own young children or those of your visiting friends and family use the pool. One easy way to remember how to stay safe in the pool is to think of the ABCs:
- A = Adult supervision
- B = Barriers
- C = Classes
The ABCs of pool safety.
- Always use supervision. Children should never be in or near a pool unsupervised. You should not take your eyes off your children, even for a minute. It takes only a momentary lack of supervision to put a child at risk of drowning. If you are alone and have to leave the pool area, take the children with you, even if you are just making a quick trip to the restroom or to answer a phone call. Additionally, flotation devices should never be used as a substitute for supervision.
- Designate a "pool watcher." If you have a large group or social gathering at the pool, designate a "pool watcher." Supply the adult supervisor with a whistle or other device to signify him or her as the person in charge. Ensure the pool watcher knows important information in case of an emergency, including emergency phone numbers, and the address of the pool's location to direct emergency response crews efficiently.
- Install barriers. The CPSC strongly encourages all residential pools to have a four-foot fence or other barrier to prevent children from wandering into the pool area. All gates should be self-closing and self-latching, and the area around the fence should be free of any tables or large toys that children could use to climb over the fence. If your house makes up one side of the barrier, make sure its doors are equipped with alarms. In addition to a physical barrier, consider adding another layer of protection to your pool, such as a pool alarm or safety cover.
- Avoid entrapment. Powerful suction from a pool's drain can lead to entrapment of a person's hair, jewelry, or body parts. Do not allow children to play near drains, and stay away from pools with broken or missing drain covers. Be especially careful around shallow wading pools, whose drains are more susceptible to entrapment.
- Learn life-saving skills. Enroll your children in swimming classes. Likewise, be sure that you and other adults in your household know how to swim; consider taking a refresher course if you need to brush up on your swimming skills. Learn CPR and other basic water safety skills as well, so that you can quickly assist an injured person in the event of an emergency.
Remember, staying safe in the pool is as easy as A - B - C. Practicing as many of the steps outlined above as possible can make a big difference in keeping your pool area safe and your children free from harm. Note that if you are adding or removing a pool, or have not yet informed your insurance carrier that you already have one, for your protection, be sure to update these changes to your home/umbrella liability insurance with a qualified insurance professional.