A swimming pool can give your family hours of fun each summer. However, it is important to remember that without proper precautions a pool can also be a real safety hazard. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are an average of 3,533 fatal drownings in the United States each year. That's about 10 deaths per day. Nearly one in five of these victims is a child under age 14, and for every child who drowns there are another five who must be treated for submersion injuries at the emergency room. These submersion injuries often result in severe brain damage and long-term disabilities. Water safety is something no parent or pool owner can afford to take lightly.
To avoid tragedy, it is vitally important that you observe the following 12 tips for pool safety.
1. Have an adult responsible to supervise every child in the pool. This is the single most important rule of all. This adult needs to maintain eye contact with the child while in or around the pool. Never leave the child unattended in the pool to answer the phone or visit the restroom. Unbroken adult supervision is your first, best defense against drowning.
2. Completely fence the pool and secure it with self-closing, self-latching gates. The pool fence needs to be a minimum of four feet high and should not be scalable. The pool fence should be in addition to your yard fence, which alone is inadequate to safeguard children from drowning.
3. Enroll your children in swimming lessons and teach them to float as early as possible. This helps protect children, but does NOT substitute for adult supervision, which is always essential.
4. Arm floatation wings are NOT life preservers. Do not assume your child is safe from drowning when wearing these devices.
5. If your pool is an above ground model, remove the steps when you are not able to supervise your child in the pool. Also, if you use a pool cover, remove the cover completely when in use. Children can become trapped under a partially removed pool cover.
6. Learn Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). Get certified and keep rescue equipment poolside. If something happens, your training can make the difference in life and death.
7. Keep house and garage doors with access to the pool area locked at all times. Many a toddler has wandered from the garage into the pool with disastrous results.
8. Do not allow children (or adults) to dive from poolside in an in-ground pool. Do not allow them to dive at all in an above ground pool. It's not deep enough.
9. Do not permit running on the pool deck. It can be slippery and a fall on cement can result in serious injury.
10. Never allow children to go down a pool slide head first. Many injuries result from kids hitting their heads on the pool floor.
11. Keep toys away from water's edge. Toddlers can easily grab for a poolside toy and fall in the water.
12. Blow up pool toys are NOT safety devices. Inner tubes, water mattresses and "noodles" are not life jackets. Don't let your guard down if your child is using them. There is no substitute for your close, personal supervision of water play.
Drowning deaths are 100 percent preventable. Follow these tips and you are well on your way to a safe, fun summer around the family pool.
If you or someone in your family is injured in a swimming pool accident, contact Bachus & Schanker, LLC for help in understanding your rights and claiming any compensation you may be due.