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Pool Safety Tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Pool Safely

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The US Consumer Product Safety Commission's (USCPSC) Pool Safely website, www.poolsafely.gov, has wonderful tips and resources to make swimming safer for everyone. According to the USCPSC, there are some alarming facts involving drowning:
  • Most children that drown were being watched by an adult.
  • Among children, drowning is one of the leading causes of death.
  • About 400 children, ages 14 and under, die from pool or spa drowning incidents each year.
  • The most common place for children 5 years old and younger to drown is a home swimming pool.
It seems obvious to me, these mean we need to be better at protecting children around swimming pools. One of our duties as adults is to keep kids safe, and in the swimming realm, there are several things we can do to help prevent drowning deaths.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission's (USCPSC) Pool Safely website has sections on:

  • Pool and Spa Safety
  • Parents and Families
  • Operators and Industry
  • Sate and Local Officials
  • Partner Organizations
  • News and Media Resources
  • Share Your Stories
Each section of the website has a set of focused resources to help keep swimming safe and healthy. The overall concept of the USCPSC's pool and safety tips are broken down into three basic areas. Lock, Look, and Learn.

LOCK

  1. Put up a fence that is at least 4 feet high and surrounds all sides of the pool or spa. The fence should have a gate with a lock that closes and latches by itself. When you are designing your home swimming pool, remember to include this important safety feature.
  2. Use door, gate and pool alarms. Just having the fence is not enough. You should have a way to alert people that the entry through the fence is being opened. An alarm will do this for you, making a noise to know the gate is open or ajar.
  3. Teach children not to play or swim near pool or spa drains. While the danger of pool drains is addressed by regulation in the USA, that dies not mean that drains are safe. A safety cover might break, a drain might have been overlooked, or a drain that is supposed to be safe might not be. The best way to prevent a drain-related accident is to keep swimmers away from drains.
  4. Use approved safety drain covers and back up devices. Pool drains and circulation systems should meet the regulations set by the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act. There is no absolute guarantee that a drain-related accident will not happen, but following these guidelines, or designing pools without main drains, may come close.

LOOK

  1. Always watch children when they are in or near water. This one measure, keeping an eye on children, could be all that is needed.
  2. When you are watching children, don't be distracted by phone calls, text messages, reading or talking to others. You cannot really be watching the children in the potentially dangerous situations around the swimming pool if you are busy surfing the web or texting someone.
  3. Watch children even if they know how to swim. Watch everyone you are responsible for, no matter how well they can swim. A swimmer could bump his or her head or get a cramp and go from swimming with no difficulty to a drowning swimmer in an instant.
  4. Children who can't swim or can't swim well should be within your reach. This type of watching has many names, like touch supervision. If you cannot touch this type of swimmer by extending your arms, you are too far away to keep the swimmer safe, and you cannot carry out this type of supervision if the swimmer is in the water and you are on land. You must get in the water with the swimmer.
  5. Keep a phone near you - use it only to call for help if there is an emergency. Stay off of the phone, don't use it if you are supervising children, but keep it hand y for an emergency.
  6. If a child is missing, check the water first. Don't waste time looking in a locker room or under the bushes, check the pool first.

LEARN

  1. Both adults and children should learn to swim. Knowing how to swim will not eliminate drowning, but it mitigates a great deal of the risk.
  2. Learn when to use U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets. If someone cannot swim, a properly fitted life jacket can make all the difference between drowning and floating.
  3. Learn how to use rescue equipment. Know how to throw a rescue rope or buoy or extend a reach pole or shepherd's crook.
  4. Learn CPR. Everyone should know how to perform CPR, you never, ever know when you might be able to save a life.
Take the CPSC's tips to heart, and you might prevent a drowning death at your pool. The life you save could be your child's!

Swim on!

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