We live for those carefree summer days spent splashing in the water, but they may have a dark side- drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death in children ages 1 to 4. It is often silent and quick, meaning it only takes a few minutes of unsupervised time in the water for a tragedy to unfold.
The good news is that by taking the proper safety measures and establishing rules for your pool, you can decrease the risk level of drowning.
While you and your family are having fun in the sun, remember to follow these important summer pool safety tips.
Assess Your Pool Area
First, take a look at your pool and the area around it. There are several things you can do to improve overall safety:
- Pool barrier – Consider installing a fence around your pool to prevent access by children and pets. A 4-sided barrier reduces drowning risk by 83% compared to a 3-sided fence (one that uses the house as the 4th side). Make sure the barrier is at least 4 feet tall and that gates are self-latching and self-closing.
- Secondary barrier – If your home does open directly to the pool, install door alarms and locks that are out of children’s reach.
- Above-ground pools – Make sure to lock or remove steps/ladders or anything else that can be used for pool access in the absence of adult supervision.
- Pool covers – Power safety covers are your best bet for safety. Keep the control device out of reach of kids and ensure the cover is closed when the pool’s not in use.
- Pet doors – Small children can crawl through pet doors, so ensure there are no doors leading directly to the pool. This keeps both kids and pets safe.
- Drain covers – Install anti-entrapment safety drain covers, which will prevent all-too-common entrapment accidents.
- Underwater pool alarm – Consider installing an underwater pool alarm, which goes off whenever anyone enters the pool. They are surprisingly affordable for the peace of mind they offer.
Establish Rules and Safe Behaviors
Having agreed-upon rules and behaviors sets the tone and parameters for safety. Adopt the following and add your own!
- Don’t go in or near the pool unless an adult or water watcher is present.
- Swim with a buddy.
- No diving.
- No running.
- No pushing.
- Stay away from drains and other areas with suction.
- If someone’s in trouble or struggling, get help immediately.
- For adults, swim sober and only supervise others when you’re not distracted.
Prepare for Emergencies and Know the Risks
Keep the following in mind as an added layer of protection.
- Never leave a child unattended around a pool or hot tub. Stay within arm’s reach of young children and anyone who can’t swim.
- If a child is missing, check the water first.
- A silent killer. Drowning is almost always quiet (and quick), not loud and splashy as depicted on TV. All the more reason for a designated water watcher and for all adults to be on high alert when children are in or near water.
- Make sure all family members know how to swim. Everyone should have basic swimming and/or water competency skills. For children still learning, adult supervision and help with competency is essential.
- Minimize your liability. Pool owners are subject to lawsuits if someone is injured or worse in their pool. So, ensure that all rules and safety measures are understood and followed — by anyone using the pool. Consider adding coverage to your homeowner’s policy for liability lawsuits and check on what it covers in the context of pools.
- Share safety instructions with others. It’s a good idea to post pool rules and safety instructions poolside so that everyone — including guests such as friends, family, babysitters and neighbors — sees, knows, and follows them.
Peace of mind is priceless. By adopting the tips above, you can rest easier this summer in and around the pool.
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