Homes with residential pools are becoming increasingly common. With this added feature, the risks in your home increase as do the precautions you need to take to mitigate them. This is heightened more when there are children in the mix. Drowning is one of the leading causes of death for children. Here are the safety considerations to keep in mind if you have a private swimming pool.
Risk factors for drowning
Drowning is the process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion or immersion in liquid. It’s not always fatal. When it’s fatal, it results in death and when it’s non-fatal, harm ranges from no injuries to severe injuries like brain damage or permanent disability. Here are the main risk factors for drowning:
Age – children ages 1-4 have the highest drowning rates. Fatal drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1-4 and the second leading cause of unintentional injury for children ages 5-14.
Gender – nearly 80% of people who die from drowning are men. This is likely because of a variety of factors including increased exposure to water, risk-taking behaviours, and alcohol use.
Ethnicity – black children have a higher risk of drowning than white children. American Indians and Alaska Natives also have a higher risk of drowning than white people.
Medicalconditions – people with medical conditions like seizure disorders, autism, and heart conditions have a higher likelihood of drowning. People with seizure disorders most often drown in the bathtub.
If you have a residential pool, here are some things you can do to minimize the risk of drowning for you and all who visit your home.
Children and weak swimmers should be closely supervised by an adult who is a good swimmer at all times. You are your family’s lifeguard. Make sure all the adults and children who live in the house can swim. For the adults, you should also make sure they are trained in rescue and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Make sure everyone is clear about the rules to adhere to around the swimming pool, such as no alcohol, drugs, or risky games. Enforce the rules at all times.
Make sure you have emergency equipment near the swimming pool including, a phone in the event that you need to call emergency service for rescue. Other key equipment to have includes things like ropes, life rings, and reaching poles that are easily accessible in case of an emergency.
It’s critical that you control access to the pool. Enclose the pool or hot tub if you have one with a fence that’s at least 4” tall. The fence should prevent a clear view of the pool from outside the fenced area. Make sure the doors open away from the pool and are self-latching.
Pool covers add another layer of protection to the swimming pool. Make sure you maintain the pool covers regularly so that they are always at their best. Barriers surrounding the edges of the pool keep children from drowning should they find their way anywhere near the pool. A barrier gives you more control over when people get to access the pool.
This is especially critical if you have children or pets. Make sure an alarm is installed on the gate or door leading to the swimming pool. The alarm will detect any disturbances and alert you should a child or pet fall into the pool.
Make sure you secure the doors that lead out into the pool so that children can’t easily open the door. Do not leave doors leading to the pool open.
If the child is in the pool, there must be continuous adult supervision at all times. If you have a pool and a child is missing, always check the water first. Remember you can teach your child to swim and begin to be comfortable in the water at any age. The earlier the better, the safer.