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Owning one is terrific. But let's not forget,
they are dangerous!
Swimming pools are so dangerous in fact, that
300 children under age 5 die and 2,000 more children under age five visit
hospital emergency rooms for submersion injuries every year!!!
As a public service Live And Learn is reprinting
the following alert issued by the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
In some of the nation's sunbelt, drowning
has been the leading cause of accidental death in the home of children
under 5 years old. The information below can help parents and caregivers
provide young children with the protection they deserve.
Each year, nationwide, more than 300 children
under 5 years old drown in residential swimming pools, usually a pool owned
by their family. In addition, more than 2,000 children in that age group
are treated in hospital emergency rooms for submersion injures.
Medical costs for submersion victims during
the initial hospitalization alone can be quite high. Costs can range from
an estimated $2,000 for a victim who recovers fully to $80,000 for a victim
with severe brain damage. Some severely brain damaged victims have initial
hospital stays in excess of 120 days and expenses in excess of $150,000.
Many communities have enacted safety regulations
governing residential swimming pools -- inground and aboveground. It's
up to parents to comply with these regulations. Apart from these laws,
parents who own pools, can take their own precautions to reduce the chances
of their youngsters accessing the family pool or spa without adult supervision.
*** FACTS AND FIGURES ***
Following are just a few facts uncovered by
the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in a comprehensive study
of drowning and submersion incidents involving children under 5 years old
in Arizona, California, and Florida.
*** BARRIERS ***
Seventy-five percent of the submersion victims
studied by CPSC were between 1 and 3 years old; 65 percent of this group
were boys. Toddlers, in particular, often do something unexpected because
their capabilities change daily.
At the time of the incidents, most victims were
being supervised by one or both parents. Forty-six percent of the victims
were last seen in the house; 23 percent were last seen in the yard or on
the porch or patio; and 31 percent were in or around the pool before the
accident. In all, 69 percent of the children were not expected to be at
or in the pool, yet they were found in the water.
Submersion incidents involving children usually
happen in familiar surroundings. Sixty-five percent of the incidents happened
in a pool owned by the child's family and 33 percent of the incidents happened
in a pool owned by friends or relatives.
Pool submersions involving children happen quickly.
A child can drown in the time it takes to answer a phone. Seventy-seven
percent of the victims had been missing from sight for 5 minutes or less.
Survival depends on rescuing the child quickly
and restarting the breathing process, even while the child is still in
the water. Seconds count in preventing death or brain damage.
Child drowning is a silent death. There's no
splashing to alert anyone that the child is in trouble.
*** FENCES & GATES ***
The following barrier recommendations are the
result of identifying key parameters that typically contribute to child
drowning in backyard pools. These recommendations are the minimum steps
you can take to make your home a safe place for your child.
Barriers are not childproof, but they provide
layers of protection for a child who strays from supervision. Barriers
give parents additional time to locate a child before the unexpected becomes
Barriers include a fence or wall, door alarms
for the house, and a power safety cover over the pool. Barriers also may
be used to protect children from accessing hot tubs and spas. Use the following
recommendations as a guide:
Use this as a guide when the release mechanism
is located less than 54 inches from the bottom of the gate.
Install a fence or other barrier, such as a wall,
completely around the pool. If the house is part of the barrier, the doors
leading from the house to the pool should be protected with an alarm or
the pool should have a power safety cover. Alarm and cover details are
The fence or other barrier should be at least
4 feet high. It should have no foot or handholds that could help a young
child to climb it.
Vertical fence slats should be less than 4 inches
apart to prevent a child from squeezing through.
When the release mechanism of the self-latching
device is less than 54 inches from the bottom of the gate, the release
mechanism for the gate should be at least 3 inches below the top of the
gate on the side facing the pool. Placing the release mechanism at this
height prevents a young child from reaching over the top of a gate and
releasing the latch. Also, the gate and barrier should have no opening
greater than 1/2 inch within 18 inches of the latch release mechanism.
This prevents a young child from reaching through the gate and releasing
If horizontal members are equal to or more than
45 inches apart, vertical spacing shall not exceed 4 inches.
If the fence is chain link, then no part of the
diamond-shaped opening should be larger than 1-3/4 inches.
Fence gates should be self-closing and self-latching.
The gate should be well maintained to close and latch easily. The latch
should be out of a child's reach.
There are a wide variety of fencing construction
materials available to compliment your house and pool surroundings. Your
local fence company or pool enclosure company can provide you with information
and assist you in making a selection.
The weak link in the strongest and highest
fence is a gate that fails to close and latch completely. For a gate to
close completely every time, it must be in proper working order.
*** DOOR ALARMS ***
Battery and electrically powered alarms are available.
The key pad switch can be used by adults who wish to pass through the door
without setting off the alarm. It should be placed high on all doors leading
from the house to the pool. Affordable and easily installed alarms are
available. An alarm signal immediately tells a parent that a door has been
If the house forms one side of the barrier, then
doors leading from the house to the pool should be protected with alarms
that produce an audible sound when a door is unexpectedly opened.
Install an alarm that can be temporarily turned
off by an adult for a single opening of the door by using a keypad or switch
that is out of a child's reach.
*** POWER SAFETY COVERS ***
Power safety covers over the pool may be used
as an alternative to door alarms. A power safety cover should meet the
requirements of the ASTM pool cover standard which addresses labeling requirements
and performance. ASTM requires that a cover withstand the weight of two
adults and a child to allow a rescue should an individual fall onto the
cover. The standard also requires quick removal of water from the cover.
A young child can drown in just inches of water.
A power safety cover is a motor powered barrier
that can be placed over the water area. Motor-driven covers easily open
and close over the pool. When the power safety cover is properly in place
over the pool, it provides a high level of safety for children under 5
years old by inhibiting their access to the water.
*** ABOVE-GROUND POOLS ***
*** RULES FOR POOLS ***
Steps and ladders leading from the ground to
the pool should be secured and locked, or removed when the pool is not
NOTE: To obtain detailed barrier recommendations,
write CPSC, Pool Barriers, Office of Information & Public Affairs,
Washington, DC 20207.
Instruct babysitters about potential pool hazards
to young children and about the use of protective devices, such as door
alarms and latches. Emphasize the need for constant supervision.
Never leave a child unsupervised near a pool.
During social gatherings at or near a pool, appoint a "designated watcher"
to protect young children from pool accidents. Adults may take turns being
the "watcher." When adults become preoccupied, children are at risk.
If a child is missing, check the pool first.
Seconds count in preventing death or disability. Go to the edge of the
pool and scan the entire pool, bottom and surface, as well as the pool
Do not allow a young child in the pool without
Do not consider young children to be drownproof
because they have had swimming lessons. Children must be watched closely
Do not use flotation devices as a substitute
Learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Babysitters
and other caretakers, such as grandparents and older siblings, should also
Keep rescue equipment by the pool. Be sure a
telephone is poolside with emergency numbers posted nearby.
Remove toys from in and around the pool when
it is not in use. Toys can attract young children to the pool.
Never prop open the gate to a pool barrier.
We hope this information met your expectations.
We feature many other public service articles on our web site. Our article
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