Most of the time, pools are an oasis of relief from the summer sun and sweltering temperatures. Swimming offers a way to cool off, relax and even exercise several muscle groups of the body. While pools can add value to a home and serve as a great gathering spot, some people will actually pass up buying a home if it has a swimming pool, particularly one that is in-ground. Why? Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death in children ages 1 to 14, according to the National Safety Council. Children ages 1 to 4 account for more than half of the deaths.
However, pools do not have to be a danger if you take safety precautions, especially when it comes to youngsters. Here are some tips on pool safety from the experts at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
We suggest that you print this page out to have handy in case of an emergency.
1. Install barriers.
A four-sided fence that is 4 feet (or higher) with slats that are less than 4 inches apart is one key barrier. The gates should be self-closing, self-latching and a child should not be able to reach the latch. Above-ground pools are generally safer than in-ground ones, particularly because the height of the pool poses a barrier. Some even come with fences mounted on top. You should always secure and lock the steps or remove them completely when the pool is not in use.
No barrier can replace adult supervision. Children should always swim with a buddy who can help alert a “lifeguard” if there is a problem. A parent, guardian or another adult who is supervising the swimming should be outdoors and in close proximity to the pool. Watching through a window is not enough. Should an accident occur, precious moments would be wasted trying to get outdoors. If a child is missing and pool is in the vicinity, check the pool first.
3. Personal Flotation Devices.
Swimming ability, not age, should dictate when and what type of personal flotation device (PFD) is appropriate for a child. Popular products like “swimmies,” “water wings” and the like are not considered PFDs by the U.S. Coast Guard, who recommends that children who cannot swim use life jackets.
4. Prepare for an emergency.
Have a cordless phone, emergency numbers, a first-aid kit and rescue equipment near the pool. Learn CPR as an extra precaution.