I know you may be wondering why I would be offering swimming pool and spa safety tips when the low temperatures have been in the 20's in Central NY lately. The fact of the matter is now is the perfect time to offer these up for your review! The swimming pool most likely is not being used at this time of year (unless it is indoor) and that makes it very convenient to correct any deficiencies before the high season arrives. Also now is the time of year when outdoor tubs and spas are used the most!
Every year the CPSC reports that an estimated 300 children under the age of five drown in swimming pools and spas. And more than 3,000 children in that same age bracket are treated in hospital emergency rooms after sustaining submersion injuries.
Before you prep your swimming pool or spa for summer activities take a moment to read through the following safety tips.
General Pool Safety
- Enclose with a 4 foot fence around all 4 sides. Enclose your pool or spa area on all 4 sides with a fence that is at least 4 feet tall. If your house makes up one side of your fence, install secure locks that are out of reach of children and install alarms. It only takes a moment for a child to wander into danger.
- Remove covers completely. When the time comes to uncover your swimming pool, take the cover completely off. A child can easily become trapped in the portion of the cover that is not removed.
- Install self closing gates. Make sure all gates leading to the pool area are self closing and self latching, with the latches high enough to be out of the reach of children.
- Move tables and chairs. Keep all tables and chairs that are outside the enclosed pool area away from the fence to keep children from climbing into the pool area.
- Have proper rescue equipment. Keep rescue equipment – a shepherd’s hook and life ring – near the pool and in good condition.
- Keep phone close. Keep a phone near the pool whenever it is occupied. You don’t want to leave young swimmers unattended for even a few seconds while you run to answer the phone. It is also crucial to have a phone near the pool in case of emergency.
- Never let children swim unsupervised. Knowing how to swim does NOT mean children are safe in the water. Even children on swim and dive teams have drowned while swimming unsupervised. Never leave children unattended in or near a pool or spa.
- Know CPR. Make certain everyone who is watching over children in the pool knows CPR.
- Educate babysitters. Go over your pool safety rules with all babysitters whether or not the children will be swimming while in their care. Also, insist that your babysitters know CPR.
- Practice “Touch Supervision.” Practice “touch supervision” with children under five years of age. This means children are always within an arm’s reach when in or around the pool.
- Require swimming ability. Never allow children over four years of age in your pool or spa if they don’t know how to swim unless they are accompanied by a parent.
- Children under four should never be allowed in the pool or spa without a parent.
- Don’t use inflatable swimming aids. Never use inflatable swimming aids – water wings, float tubes, water mattresses, etc. – as a substitute for a certified life vest or flotation device. Be aware that inflatable swimming aids can lead to a false sense of security.
- Remove toys. Remove all toys from the pool or spa after swimming. Children might try to reach for toys in the water and fall in. Putting them in a closed bin or small storage unit will keep them out of sight and reduce the risk of children going into the pool area to get them.
Avoid Drain Entrapment
Drain suction can be powerful enough to trap an adult underwater. Keep children safe by following these drain safety tips.
- Keep drains and drain covers in excellent condition. Loose, broken or missing drain covers pose a serious drowning threat.
- Keep children away. Never allow children to go near drains or suction outlets. This is especially dangerous in spas and shallow pools. According to CPSC, “children’s public wading pools, other pools designed specifically for young children, and in-ground spas that have flat drain grates and single main drain systems pose the greatest risk of entrapment.” Anything from hair, to body parts, to jewelry and bathing suits can become caught on a drain cover or entrapped in the drain.
- Have your pool and/or spa inspected. The CPSC recommends that all pool and spa owners contact a licensed professional engineer to regularly inspect drains and covers to make sure they are P&SS Act compliant. They recommend contacting “state or local officials to determine who is qualified in your area.”
Enjoying the water is a wonderful way to escape the heat of summer. Follow these safety tips and have a safe, enjoyable summer.
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