How to Make Your Backyard Pool Safe
A backyard swimming pool can be an incredible way to relax, entertain and even exercise. Large or small, inground or above-ground, a swimming pool can provide hours of fun. But pools can also pose a danger, especially to young children, and that danger can happen in a matter of seconds.
The statistics are sobering—drowning kills more young children one to four years old than anything else except birth defects and 75 percent of drowning deaths of children younger than 15 occurred at a swimming pool located at a private residence. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points to drowning as a leading cause of unintentional death among children one–14 years of age.
But headlines reporting those drowning aren’t just statistics; they’re about real people. Backyard pool drowning accidents can happen to anyone. From friends and neighbors to celebrities like Olympic skier, Bode Miller and his wife, whose 18-month old daughter Emiline drowned and country singer, Granger Smith and his wife, whose three-year old son, River died from drowning.
The good news is that you can take steps to make your swimming pool safe and protect children from drowning.
First and foremost, children should always be supervised by an adult. Vigilance is the single most important factor in preventing drowning. Adults should practice arm-length direct “touch supervision” for infants and toddlers even if they can swim. While there are many ways to make your swimming pool safe, there is no substitute for supervision!
While none of the following precautions replace adult supervision, they can help save lives:
Fence a pool in. Install a fence that separates the pool area from the house and yard and self-closing and self-latching gates. There isn’t a federal pool-fence law, but several cities and states have enacted their own laws that spell out fence requirements, such as minimum fence height and other specifications. Some experts say the taller the better to ensure that children can’t use things to climb fences.
Install alarms. Use an alarm on the house door that leads to the pool area, a floating pool alarm or a below-water alarm. Keep in mind that an alarm isn’t a substitute for appropriate fencing and supervision.
Block pool and hot tub access. Secure covers on pools and hot tubs when they are not in use.
Remove toys from the pool. Don’t leave pool toys in the water. Curious children can easily fall into the water while trying to retrieve a toy.
Keep children away from drains. Body parts and hair can become entrapped by the strong suction.
Have rescue equipment and a first aid kit nearby.
Make sure you have a life-saving tools (life ring, rescue tube or life hook), a first aid kit and a phone nearby. Store the rescue equipment near the pool in a clearly marked and accessible area, and periodically check to make sure it’s in good condition.
Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). All adults should be trained in CPR. Many organizations such as the American Red Cross, fire departments and hospitals offer CPR certification courses.
Teach children to swim. Knowing how to swim doesn’t necessarily prevent drowning and isn’t a substitute for adult supervision but teaching children to swim is always a good idea.
Set pool rules. Educate everyone using your pool on what pool conduct is and is not acceptable. You might even create a list of “official” pool rules that includes these basic instructions:
- Don’t run on the pool deck
Don’t dive into shallow water
Don’t push anyone into the pool
Don’t swim without an adult present
Don’t dunk or hold anyone underwater
Taking precautions and installing state-of-the-art safety equipment is a great start and a good addition to any water safety plan, but remember, constant supervision is the single most important way to prevent drowning. Your donation can help teach children water safety to stop drowning death and injury.