Drowning is Preventable: Pool Safety Practices for Home Swimming
Many families enjoy the summer months by swimming in backyard pools and relaxing in hot tubs. Unfortunately, according to the American Red Cross, over 200 young children drown in backyard swimming pools every year. The Texas Department of Family & Protective Services recently reported that there have been 41 Texas child drowning accidents in 2015 alone; 14 occurred in Dallas, and 7 in the Houston area.
However, drowning is completely preventable. The best way to ensure a safe and fun pool environment for your family is by adding layers of protection. By taking the extra simple steps, you can better prevent an accidental drowning from occurring and keep your family safe at all times. Here are some best pool safety practices parents and families can add to their their current safety practices when in or around a residential pool or spa.
Supervision at All Times
The most important safety practice to remember is to keep children under active supervision at all times. Designate a responsible adult who would be able to stay within an arm’s reach of young ones. Never allow someone to swim alone. Drowning accidents can happen within a matter of seconds of looking away.
Install the Right Equipment & Alarms
Home pool should be protected with the appropriate barriers to keep infants and small children from getting into the pool. Pools should have a high fence (4 foot or taller) with a self-closing, self-latching gate. When not in use, pools and hot tubs should have a safety cover and ladders or steps leading to into the pool should be removed to restrict access. Pools should also have compliant pool drain covers to prevent entrapments. Pool alarms or wearable devices can be installed or worn to let you know when your child is around or near water.
Keep Pool and Hot Tub Water Clean
Keep pool and hot tub water clean and clear by maintaining proper pool chemical levels, circulation, and filtration. Cloudy water significantly contributes to the number of drowning deaths every year. The decreased visibility due to cloudy water prevents a supervisor or lifeguard from seeing a distressed swimmer. Cloudy pool also contributes to earaches, rashes, and other serious health issues.
Establish Rules and Safety Behaviors
Teach children basic water safety skills and enforce safe behaviors such as, “no diving,” “stay away from drain covers,” “never swim alone without a grown up,” and “no running near water”. Parents and students can review some basic safety rules and take the Pool Safely pledge here.
Ensure Everyone Knows How to Respond in an Emergency
Make sure that everyone in the home knows how to respond in a pool emergency. Have the appropriate safety equipment, first aid, and CPR course experience to respond quickly and effectively. Pool Safely recommends preparing a pool safety kit to place near your pool or spa area so that if the worst happens, you are ready to respond:
Learn to Swim
Learning how to swim can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% among children aged one to four years (Source: Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 2009). A swim survival program such as the Survival Swim program equips a child with the basic water skills he or she needs to survive in the water in the event of accidental drowning.