Where is a child most vulnerable to drowning? It’s a place that’s actually quite close to home – a residential swimming pool. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children between the ages of 1 and 4 years old are the most at risk for drowning in a residential swimming pool, which can mean an in-ground pool, above-ground pool, a hot tub or a kiddie pool. Drowning is also a leading cause of death for older children up to age 14 as well. So what can you do to help keep your kids safe as they enjoy yours or a neighbor’s backyard pool?
Here are a variety of vital tips on swimming pool safety that may be invaluable to remember:
#1: Don’t Turn Your Back For Five Minutes
Life can change in an instant – one parent starts talking to another parent in a pool area and has their back turned on their toddler. They assume that the child is going to be happily occupied with a toy they’ve been playing with in the backyard. But what they don’t realize is that that little one can move awfully fast, dropping a toy and climbing right into a pool on their own quietly. That’s precisely where tragedy can strike. So don’t let yourself get distracted. Stay alert and know exactly where your child is at all times in relation to the pool area.
Most of the time, at least one parent is present during a drowning accident, but there are instances of drowning when the child is supervised by another adult, a babysitter or a sibling.
So if your child is going to be swimming and you can’t be present, make sure that 1) these other people understand the importance of supervising your child in the pool at all times and 2) they understand the importance of knowing how to perform CPR. By the way, you are not out of line asking a neighbor if someone in their household is going to responsible for supervising all children, including yours, in their own pool.
#2: Fence It And Cover It
A backyard pool that’s fenced-in on four sides keeps the home and pool area distinctly separate, giving you a buffer zone that makes it slightly less convenient for a child to wander easily into the water right from your home. A few key must-haves:
First, keep the fence on the high side with at least a height for four or five feet tall.
Second, every fence should have a self-closing and self-latching gate that isn’t easy for your child to access.
Third, another kind of “fence” but no less important is a safety cover to put over the pool whenever it is not in use.
The more challenging barriers in place, the more time you can potentially buy to retrieve your child before they enter the pool on their own.
#3: Be Alarmed In The Most Proactive Way
You consider yourself fairly alert on the whereabouts of your child at all times. You have a pool gate and cover in place. But maybe, just maybe, there’s that one time in which perhaps a sibling didn’t close the gate all the way or the pool cover wasn’t put on – and as we all know, one time is once too many. That’s why you need to provide yourself with another layer of protection via a pool alarm system.
A pool alarm system will sound when someone tried to enter the pool area, whether you have a doorway in the home that opens into the pool or a detached pool. You should be able to hear the alarm sound from any area of the home or nearby and it should be unmistakable from any other alarm you have installed. Remember, seconds matter here – you don’t want to run for the front door believing it’s your regular home alarm and then thinking it’s a false alarm when you don’t see any problem – when in fact, your child is in the backyard having slipped into the pool. Make sure it’s a distinct sound that instantly triggers your sense of location to where the danger is coming from – the pool.
#4: Cover Those Drains
One hidden danger lurking within pools that owners can forget comes in the form of pool drains and pipes. These areas, with their strong suction, can trap children who are not adept swimmers. Every one of these drains should have an anti-entrapment cover to help minimize this safety risk.
#5: New, Non-Swimmers Should Wear Life Jackets – Not “Floaties”
It’s easy to put some “floaties” on brand new young swimmers and assume they’re completely protected, but that is not the case. Only a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket is acceptable for such a novice swimmer.
#6: Swimming Lessons Are Tremendously Important But…
Don’t make the assumption that a child who takes swimming lessons can’t drown. Children who know how to swim can drown. Adults who know how to swim can drown. Should they take swimming lessons? Absolutely without question. But just as they should know how to float and move about the water, children and everyone else in your household should also know how to save the life of someone who is drowning. Which leads us to our 7th and final safety tip when it comes to pool safety…
#7: Everybody In The Home Should Take CPR And First Aid Classes
We’ve talked a whole lot about prevention and what it takes to minimize your chances of experiencing a tragedy due to a child drowning in a backyard pool. However, we can’t pretend that accidents still aren’t going to happen. That’s why your entire family should be educated on how to administer CPR and first aid so that they know how to act fast in any poolside setting to potentially save a life when seconds matter.
At SOS Technologies, we’re here to help. Our safety consultants can give you the proper training on how to perform CPR on infants, children and adults as well as a variety of first aid techniques for common household emergencies. There’s no such thing as being too prepared or cautious on poolside safety. To learn more, call SOS at 888.705.6100.