As the weather heats up, people will turn to the pool to cool down. While this is normally good summer fun, it can take a tragic turn in an instant.
According to the CDC, an average of 10 fatal drownings happen each day in the United States.
These deaths can be prevented. If you own or manage a property with a pool, or if you have a pool at your home, follow the safety guidelines below.
1. Understand How Drowning Happens
According to Safe Kids Worldwide, common misconceptions give people a false sense of security. One of the most dangerous misconceptions is that people who are drowning make a lot of noise and splash around. This is not what happens. Drowning is often fast and silent. If you’re not watching closely, you might not notice that someone is in trouble.
2. Supervise Young Children
Young children are especially vulnerable to drowning. According to the CDC, drowning is the second-leading cause of death by unintentional injury for children between the ages of one and 14, and children between one and four have the highest drowning rates.
Adults should be present to monitor young children. Public and community pools should have clear rules stating that adults must accompany children. Even if a lifeguard is present, it’s important for adults to watch their own children – a single lifeguard may not be able to see everything in a busy pool.
Flotation devices can help young children stay safe. Make sure you’re using USCG approved devices intended for this purpose – floaties, life vests or flotation swim suits (not pool toys). Even with flotation devices, close supervision is needed.
3. Secure the Premises
A fence measuring in height from 3.5 to 5 ft. can help keep children from wandering into the pool unsupervised. Make sure it’s tall and sturdy enough to keep people out. Self-closing and self-latching gates are recommended as well. When the pool is not being used for a while, the right pool cover can add an extra layer of security. Select a pool cover designed for safety.
Any damage to the ground around the pool, the edges of the pool, the steps leading into the pool and the safety rails should be fixed immediately. This will help prevent tripping accidents.
The right pool apron surface can also help prevent dangerous slips. Install non-slip tiles around the pool to reduce the chance of accidents. Realize, however, that while these materials help, caution is still needed. Post signs warning that the floor may be slippery when wet and prohibit running in the area. Also pay attention to nearby areas, such as the entrance to a building, which can also become wet and slippery.
4. Use Anti-Entrapment Drain Covers
Swimming pools should be equipped with anti-entrapment drain covers and fittings conforming to ASME/ANSI standards. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released a list of companies that manufacture the swimming pool and spa drain covers in various sizes that have represented to the CPSC staff to meet the ASME/ANSI A112.19.8-2007 standard. The CPSC enforces compliance with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act as a consumer product safety rule. The CPSC does not provide approval or endorsements for any of these companies. Learn more at poolsafety.gov.
5. Post Clear Rules
In addition to the rule that children must be supervised by adults, many other policies should be clearly posted and enforced on pool areas you manage. Some of these polices may include the following:
- No jumping or diving in shallow water
- No running
- No alcohol
- No glass bottles
- No swimming after hours
6. Learn CPR
As a final precaution, get trained in CPR. If you own a business, offer CPR training to your staff members. CPR saves lives. See the American Red Cross site to find a course.