Summer is here! While Floridians need to be vigilant about water safety year-round, it’s especially important that we review our drowning prevention now, as schools let out for summer vacation and temperatures are on the rise.
In 2002, an estimated 1,600 children were treated in hospital emergency rooms for submersion injuries. Sadly, 250 children under the age of 5 drown in swimming pools every year. Among unintentional injuries, drowning has been the second leading cause of death to children under age 5, after motor vehicle accidents.
One of the most tragic aspects of drowning deaths is that they are preventable; however, there is no foolproof method of prevention. The safest plan is to use several “layers” of protection – constant supervision of young children, using barriers such as a fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate around pools to prevent access, and becoming certified in child and infant CPR.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends keeping these tips in mind to prevent tragedies from occurring:
- Fences and walls should be at least 4 feet high and installed completely around the pool. Fence gates should be self-closing and self-latching. The latch should be out of a small child’s reach. Keep furniture that could be used for climbing into the pool area away from fences.
- If your house forms one side of the barrier to the pool, then doors leading from the house to the pool should be protected with alarms that produce a sound when a door is unexpectedly opened.
- A power safety cover – a motor-powered barrier that can be placed over the water area – can be used when the pool is not in use.
- Keep rescue equipment by the pool and be sure a phone is poolside with emergency numbers posted. Knowing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can be a lifesaver. Estero Fire Rescue offers a number of CPR courses throughout the year. For information on dates, locations, and cost, please call (239) 390-8016 or visit our website at www.esterofire.org.
- Don’t leave pool toys and floats in the pool or pool area that may attract young children to the water.
- For above-ground pools, steps and ladders to the pool should be secured and locked, or removed when the pool is not in use.
- If a child is missing, always look in the pool first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
- Pool alarms can be used as an added precaution. The commission advises that consumers use remote alarm receivers so the alarm can be heard inside the house or in other places away from the pool area.
- To prevent body entrapment and hair entrapment/entanglement, have a qualified pool professional inspect the drain suction fittings and covers on your pool and spa to be sure that they are the proper size, properly attached, and meet current safety standards. If your pool or spa has a single drain outlet, consider installing a safety vacuum release system that breaks the vacuum to avoid potential entrapment conditions.
For more information on drowning prevention, or to receive free publications with useful information for consumers on how to prevent drowning, contact the CPSC hotline at (800) 638-2772, or write to “Pool Safety”, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Washington, D.C., 20207.