Memorial Day weekend has come and gone, meaning that many people are starting to spend time in swimming pools this season. But the fun that comes with summertime recreational activities also brings inherent risk that we must safeguard against.
According to the latest statistics from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, child drownings in pools continues to pose significant challenges across the nation. CPSC’s data show that, on average, 382 children younger than fifteen drown in pools annually, with 290 of those victims being under the age of five. A large majority of fatal drownings—75 percent—occur in residential pools. In addition, drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death among younger children.
What can we do to shield our families from these preventable tragedies? Here are a few helpful swimming pool tips from the American Red Cross:
- Education is vital and the first line of defense against preventable tragedy. Ensure that everyone in the home knows how to appropriately respond to aquatic emergencies by having proper safety equipment and enrolling all family members in first aid and CPR training. Swimming lessons should also be given to young children when parents feel they are ready. Various training courses are available at your local Red Cross, YMCA, hospitals and fire departments.
- Residential pools should be fully secured with appropriate barriers. A four-foot high fence equipped with a self-closing, self-latching gate, along with a safety cover over the pool is recommended. Installing pool gate alarms or a surface wave (underwater) alarm adds an extra layer of protection.
- Children should be kept under active supervision at all times. Teach them to always ask for permission to go near or in the water. Small children and infants should never be more than an arm’s reach away from an adult, as they can drown in as little as one inch of water.
- Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and openings.
- Keep a portable phone near the pool in case of emergency. Talk to your children about the information that they might need to provide to a 9-1-1 dispatcher.
- Young or inexperienced swimmers should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket. A helpful pamphlet regarding this topic can be found here: https://www.safekids.org/sites/default/files/documents/how-to-choose-the-right-life_0.pdf
- Be wary of certain pool toys, flotation devices, and accessories. Some of these items are unsafe.
- Establishing a set of pool rules like “no running near the pool,” “no diving,” and “never swim alone” is a good way to ensure that your children are protected this summer.
- Keep a first aid kit near the pool which includes scissors or shears capable of cutting hair, clothing, or a pool cover if necessary.
As always, having a simple pool safety conversation with your family is a smart way to kick off the summer. Children are more likely to follow the rules if their parents have reinforced them at home. Additionally, the CPSC has announced that it is bringing back its “Pool Safely” campaign. It’s an online pledge for children and adults to stay safe when swimming. Children pledge to never swim alone, stay away from drains and ask for swimming lessons. Adults pledge to learn CPR, always have someone supervising swim time and make sure their little ones can swim. Since the campaign’s launch last year more than 11,000 children and adults have taken the pledge. You and your family can sign the pledge here: https://www.poolsafely.gov/pledge/
Adding as many water safety steps as possible is the best way to ensure a safe and fun experience in a residential swimming pool. If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury or even death in a swimming pool accident, call 800-243-1100 to speak with a swimming accident attorney at Kline & Specter, PC today.