The statistics are horrifying. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that there is an average of 390 swimming pool deaths each year – that averages more than one each day. Drowning is the number one cause of unintentional death for children from 1 to 4 years old. If you have a backyard pool, follow these 5 steps to keep your children, their friends and your family safe.
1. Practice Safety. Never, under any circumstance, let children swim unsupervised. Educate your family and practice pool safety. Make sure that every child understands that it is unsafe to swim alone and unsafe to swim without adult supervision. Forbid swimming alone and make sure your children know to alert you if a brother, sister or friend is in the pool unsupervised. Make children as water safe as possible with age-appropriate swimming lessons, but don’t think those lessons make the child safe. Always supervise!
2. Fence It In. You pool should be surrounded by a fence that is at least 4-feet tall and completely separates the pool from the home. Pay careful attention to what is next to the fence. If there is lawn furniture or anything stacked next to it that could allow a child to climb over the fence, move it.
3. Lock It Up. The gate to the pool should be self-closing and self-latching. It should be installed out of the reach of small children. Practice safety. Don’t prop the pool gate open if you’re cleaning the pool or, even, when the whole family is in the swim. Make it a habit – the gate is always closed and locked.
4. Use a Pool Cover. That fence is important, but facts show that 20% of drownings happen in pools that are fenced. A pool cover that is secured and can support the weight of a minimum of two adults and one child will give you a very important level of protection. Again, just like the gate, it only works if you use it. Consider the convenience of a motorized cover or make it a habit to keep your pool cover on whenever the pool isn’t in use.
5. Use an Alarm. It’s a warning that may save a life. Underwater alarms are recommended since surface alarms may give more false alarms. An underwater alarm detects motion in the water rather than monitoring the surface. You should also consider adding an alarm to any door that leads out to the pool area.
Pool safety is paramount. Not only is it one of the leading cause of death in children under 14; children who survive a near-drowning can be neurological compromised and need a lifetime of care. Layer your protection. A child safe pool cover is an excellent and important addition to the safety of your pool. Fences can be climbed. Gates can be left open. If a pool cover is in place it can support the weight of multiple people and pets. It’s safety with a bonus since pool covers also keep pools cleaner, reduce chemical use and extend the swim season by working with the sun to keep the water warm. Add the safety barriers and remember, never, ever, let children be in your pool without adult supervision.