With over 350 young children drowning in backyard pools each year, keeping your kids safe in the pool means making safety a priority. While no water source can ever truly be drown-proofed, there are important steps that you can take to keep your child safe when in the water.
5. Learn CPR and Rescue Breathing
Accidents happen and seconds matter. As little as four to six minutes without oxygen can cause permanent brain damage or death. You shouldn’t have to wait for paramedics to arrive to begin life-saving measures for your child.
Take the time to learn CPR and Rescue Breathing before you have a pool installed or before moving into a home with a pool. Your local chapter of the American Red Cross, YMCA, or fire department offer CPR and Rescue Breathing courses on a regular basis. In just a few hours you can learn the lifesaving skills you need to help save someone’s life in the event of an emergency.
Ideally, every person in your home old enough to perform CPR should go through the training class. Many Red Cross and YMCA locations even offer specialized classes for children. At a minimum, keep a lifesaving ring and CPR instruction poster mounted poolside for those who have not taken the course.
4. Install a Pool Fence
In addition to being a homeowner’s insurance requirement, pool fencing is a requirement of most state and local municipalities. While the law may vary from location to location, fences are one of the best ways to ensure that children do not wander into the pool area alone and undetected.
Rutherford County specifically requires fencing that is no less than four feet high, with the bottom no more than two inches above the ground. All gates must open outwardly and have a lock no less than four and a half feet from the bottom of the gate. If your home serves as the fourth side of the fenced in areas, any doors that have direct access to the pool must be equipped with an alarm that is located at least four and a half feet above the threshold to alert you whenever someone accesses the pool area. Your pool must also be equipped with a powered safety cover.
3. Teach Your Child to Avoid Pool Drains and Filters
Children are not typically the strongest swimmers and are more susceptible to the suction caused by pool drains and filters. Teaching your child to avoid these areas of the pool can help mitigate one common cause of childhood drowning.
Another step that you should take is to install VGB-compliant drain covers. VGB-compliant drain covers are required in public swimming pools and are recommended for private ones as their curved design prevents the entire drain surface from being blocked, thus reducing the amount of suction force created when a child’s body part or clothing comes into contact with them.
Non VGB-compliant drains are flat and create a strong suction force when blocked, which can pin children underwater. Bathing suits, hair, and limbs can easily get stuck in these drains and children may be unable to pull themselves free.
2. Teach Your Child How to Swim
Swimming lessons should be at the top of your list when you’re considering allowing your child to spend time in the water. Low-cost lessons are available for all ages at your local YMCA or recreation center. The USA Swimming Foundation has a complete list of organizations that you can search by ZIP code.
Swimming is a fun and heart healthy activity that is also a valuable lifesaving skill. Flotation devices and lifejackets may be fun accessories that allow your child to explore the water, but they are no substitute for knowing how to swim. If your child cannot swim, always remain within arm’s reach. Parents should also remember, however, that knowing how to swim does not mean that your child is drown-proof. There’s no substitute for an aware and watchful parent.
1. Never Leave A Child Unattended in the Water
The number one safety precaution you can take to keep your child safe in the water is to never leave them unattended. Children should never be allowed in the pool area alone, even if they know how to swim. Adult supervision is a must at all time.
When gathering poolside, designate a specific adult to be a watcher of all children in the water. If there’s a group of adults, you can take this duty in shifts, making sure that each adult knows when they are the designated watcher. Child drowning is silent, free of the yelling or splashing depicted in movies, so just listening for distress is never enough.
Keep your phone poolside so that you don’t have to leave the pool area to answer it or to make an emergency call in the event of an accident. If you have to leave the pool area for any reason, have all children get out of the water and stay outside the fenced area until you return.
A pool can be an exciting and fun place for your family to spend the dog days of summer. An abundance of caution and the implementation of basic safety measures will keep your child safe and splashing around all summer long. For even more pool safety tips, fun activities to teach kids about water safety, and other materials, check out US Consumer Product Safety’s Pool Safely today.
What safety measures did you implement when you installed your pool? Leave us a comment below and tell us all about them.
Annette Masterson is a licensed broker with EXIT Realty Bob Lamb & Associates in Murfreesboro, TN. She has developed one of the most successful real estate teams in Rutherford County, known as Masterson Network, that specializes in new home construction and residential listings and sales throughout Middle Tennessee. You can email Annette at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 615-896-5656 (Office) or 615-533-1660 (Cell) for more information.