Drowning can happen nearly anywhere with standing water, including backyard pools. It is time to reopen residential pools and get them ready for the season.
The American Red Cross recommends families make sure all members qualify as being water competent. That is defined as knowing how to prevent and respond to drowning emergencies. Water competency has 3 main components: water smarts, swimming skills and helping others.
Child drownings remain the leading cause of unintentional death among children ages 1 to 4 years old, and the second leading cause of unintentional death for kids ages 5 to 14 years old according to the U.S. poolsafety.gov website.
Here are some tips from the Red Cross and pool safety website to help prevent accidents when near the water:
- Adults should constantly and actively watch their children.
- Inexperienced or non-swimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
- Parents or guardians of young children should be within an arm’s reach.
- Children and adults should not engage in breath-holding activities.
Many children who drown in home pools did so when they weren’t expected to be in the water, including as the swimming activity was coming to an end and everyone was thought to be out of the water.
Drowning incidents often happen when children are out of sight for less than 5 minutes and in the care of one or both parents at the time.
Secure your pool when not in use
- Completely surround your pool with four-sided isolation fencing with a self-closing and self-latching gate that is out of the reach of a child.
- A four-sided isolation fence (separating the pool area from the house and yard) reduces a child’s risk of drowning 83 percent compared to three-sided property-line fencing.
- For above-ground pools, secure, lock or remove steps, ladders and anything that can be used for access (such as outdoor furniture and toys) whenever the pool is not being actively supervised by an adult.
- Install a secondary barrier, such as door alarms and locks that are out of the reach of kids on doors and windows that have direct access to the pool area. Another option is lockable covers.
Establish and enforce rules
and safe behaviors
- Do not enter headfirst into a pool unless it has a safe diving area.
- Stay away from drains and other openings that cause suction.
- Swim with a buddy.
- Only swim when supervised by a water watcher.
- Swim sober.
- Supervise others sober and without distractions, such as reading or talking on or using a cell phone.
One long-term safety measure would be to make sure every member of the family learns to swim and get swimming lessons for those who need them.
Also, know what to do in a water emergency including getting trained in CPR.