About 300 children under the age of five drown yearly in residential pools and spas, according to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, and the South has one of the highest drowning rates in the country.
The U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Mid-South SAFE KIDS Coalition recommend the following safety tips for pool owners:
- Fence all sides of the pool at least four to five feet high, including the entrance from the house, and have a self-latching gate.
- Place alarms on all doors going to the pool.
- Toys and glassware should not be left by the pool.
- Keep life preservers and a cordless phone nearby.
- Horseplay in and around the pool area should be strictly forbidden.
- Children should not be allowed to dive into the shallow water.
- Everyone should stay away from water during storms.
Check it out
Following are some safety features to be checked when preparing a pool for summer, or anytime a pool is used:
- Pool Covers. Always remove the pool cover completely before entering the pool. Always remove standing water from the pool cover. Always cover the pool when not in use.
- Gates. Make sure your pool gate is self-closing and has a self latching mechanism in proper working order that is out of reach of young children.
- Doors. All exit doors from the house to the pool should be kept locked as a routine, and all locks should be at least five feet from the floor.
- Fencing. Make sure that the fence is at least five feet high. There should be no vertical opening in the fence that is more than four inches wide. The fence should be constructed so that small children cannot climb it, but should still allow a clear view of the pool from the house.
Nothing can prevent an accident like supervision of children, says Susan Helms, director of injury prevention at Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center in Memphis and coordinator of Mid-South SAFE KIDS Coalition.
"Make sure young children are never left alone in or around the pool and that they are always supervised by an adult," Helms said.
Some tips from Helms:
- Keep lifesaving equipment poolside.
- Always instruct caretakers about potential hazards to young people in and around the swimming pool.
- Never rely on flotation devices or swimming lessons to protect a child.
- Keep toys and other enticements to children away from the pool when it is not in use.
Dr. Joseph Weinberg, medical director of the emergency department at Le Bonheur says anyone who owns a pool should know cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
"Studies show the single most important factor in saving drowning victims is having CPR at the scene," he said.