| Drowning is the number 2 cause of death for children under 5 years old nationally, and number one in the "hot" states
like Florida and California. The U.S. government estimates that over 8 of 10 drownings occur at private pools. Most of
these result from improper supervision matched with improper pool safety. For every drowning that results in death their
are 11 near drownings. Many of these result in totally disabling brain damage. 3 out of every 4 child
drowning accidents involved a child between 1 and 3 years old.
Most parents who have experienced a drowning fatality never suspected the possibility of drowning. Three quarters of child drowning victims were seen in the house or in the yard just before the accident. Even parents who closely supervise their own children at home are not aware of the conditions of the neighbor's pool next door.
|Supervision alone can and does fail. More than two thirds of the nation's drowning accidents occur while one or both parents were responsible for the child's supervision, and almost two thirds occur at the family's own pool. A drowning is silent and can occur in seconds. More than three fourths of drowning victims had been missing less than 5 minutes before being found in the pool submerged, and it is unlikely that screaming or splashing will be heard to alert anyone that a child is in trouble.|
|While many municipalities have created tough laws and regulations governing pool safety it is still up to parents to enforce them. Laws and regulations alone will not end drowning accidents. Even a momentary lapse in parental supervision can be disastrous. But there are some steps home owners can take to reduce the chance of potential drownings. Experts recommend that home owners create barriers that prevent youngsters from having access to the pool or spa area without adult supervision.|
|Building a wall or fence around the pool or spa area is the first line of defense in creating an effective barrier. Child proof fencing prevents a child from going over, under, or through the fence when adult supervision is not present. The barrier should completely surround the pool, should be less than 4 inches above the ground, and should be at least 4 feet high. In addition the vertical slats in the barrier should be less than 4 inches apart so that children cannot squeeze through, and should have no foot or handholds that can be used by children to climb over it. Chainlink fence mesh should not exceed one and a quarter inch diamond squares, and it is recommended that the squares be filled with aluminum privacy slates to prevent climbing.|
|Gates should open out from the pool and should be self closing with self latching locks that are out of the child's reach. For barriers less than 5 feet high, the latch's release mechanism should be at least 3 inches below the top of the gate so that children cannot reach over and open the latch. There should be no opening in or near the gate greater than a half an inch so that children cannot reach though and unlock the gate.|
|Experts also suggest using a pool cover, self latching locks for doors that lead to the pool area, and door alarms and motion alarms in the pool and spa area. Teaching your child to swim as early as possible is a great preventative measure too, as well as teaching infants water survival training as soon as they are able to crawl. Parents should take CPR training and rescue techniques for themselves and their children. The more protection you have, the less likely it is that a drowning will take place. While it is impossible to create an invulnerable system, it is possible to greatly reduce the chances of an accident.|
Check with your local code enforcement division to obtain the local requirements for your area. in addition to your local
requirements, the Federal Government has the following guidelines listed in the BOCA National Building Code:|
421.10.1 Enclosures for private swimming pools: Private swimming pools shall be enclosed in accordance with
Sections 421.10.1 or by other approved barriers.
1. The top of the barrier shall be at least 48 inches above finished ground level measured on the side of the
barrier which faces away from the swimming pool. The maximum vertical clearance between finished ground level and the
barrier shall be 2 inches measured on the side of the barrier which faces away from the swimming pool. Where the top of
the pool structure is above finished ground level, such as an above-ground pool, the barrier shall be at finished ground level,
such as the pool structure, or shall be mounted on top of the pool structure. Where the barrier is mounted on the pool
structure, the opening between the top surface of the pool frame and the bottom of the barrier shall not allow passage
of a 4-inch diameter sphere.
A copy of Safety Barrier Guidelines for Home Pools produced by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission can be
obtained by writing to:
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Or at their Web site: http://www.cpsc.gov/
Safety Barrier Guidelines for Home Pools
American Academy of Pediatrics
Pool Safety for Children
Pool and Spa Emergency Procedures
Drowning Prevention Tips