Home swimming pools are a great way to beat the summer heat, but there is an element of risk around water. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), unintentional drowning accidents cause 10 deaths every day and are the fifth most common cause of accidental death in the United States. Fortunately, knowing the dangers and following these safety strategies will help keep your swimming pool safe.
1. Limit Access to the Pool
About 70 percent of drowning victims are children age 5 and younger. The American Red Cross estimates that about 70 percent of drowning victims were not expected to be near water at the time of the accident. For this reason, it is imperative that access to the pool be restricted when it is not in use.
A four-sided barrier, like a chain link fence around the pool area, greatly reduces the risk a child will gain access to the pool unsupervised. The enclosure should have a self-locking gate that is difficult for children to open.
For above-ground pools, reduce the risk of drowning by installing a locking cover and securing it any time the pool is not being used. To keep your pool safe, stairs and ladders should be barricaded or removed from the pool to limit access.
2. Assign a Supervisor
Assigning a responsible person to watch the pool will help keep your home swimming pool safe. The designated person must be free from distractions. Pool accidents often happen quickly, and a distraction like a book or a smartphone can be the difference between a close call and a serious accident.
3. Keep Your Swimming Pool Safe by Establishing Pool Rules
When kids know that the pool rules are non-negotiable and that breaking them carries consequences, they will be less likely to engage in behavior that compromises their safety. Create pool rules and post them near the pool as a reminder to family and guests. You can include:
- Don’t swim alone
- Never enter the pool head first
- NO running around the pool
- Avoid engaging in horseplay, such as wrestling, “dunking”, or jumping on top of others
Making sure the pool rules are understood and enforced is one of the best ways to keep your swimming pool safe.
4. Avoid Alcohol While Swimming
Alcohol and swimming pools do not mix. According to the National Institutes of Health, using alcohol during aquatic activities greatly increases the risk of drowning. Discourage alcohol use before swimming and in or around the pool area.
5. Swimming Skills Help Keep Your Swimming Pool Safe
The CDC reports that swimming ability, or the lack thereof, is a major factor in the drowning deaths of children ages one to four years old. Research has shown that fewer pool injuries occur with children who have taken formal swimming lessons. Enroll your children in swimming lessons. Encourage adults who are not already strong swimmers to take lessons as well.
These simple strategies will reduce the likelihood of accidents around the water. Limiting access to the pool, designating a water watcher, enforcing pool rules, learning how to swim, and staying sober around the pool will help to keep your home swimming pool safe.