SWIMMING POOLS CAN BE DANGEROUS PLAN FOR THE
Preventing Child Drownings!
In some of the nationís sunbelt,
drowning has been the leading cause of accidental death in the home of
children under 5 years old.
Each year, nationwide, about
300 children under 5 years old drown in 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 injuries.
Medical costs for submersion
victims during the initial hospitalization alone can be quite high. Costs
can range from an estimated $4,000 for a victim who recovers fully to $160,000
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
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,
The information below can
help parents and caregivers provide young children with the protection
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- fivepercent of the incidents happened
in a pool owned by the childís family
and 33 percent of the incidents happened in a pool owned by friends or
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
Seconds count in preventing death or brain
Child drowning is a silent death. Thereís
no splashing to alert anyone that the child is in trouble.
Fences - Gates - Alarms
|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 a reality. 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:
FENCES AND GATES
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
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.
Use this as a guide when the release
mechanism is located less than 54 inches from the bottom of the gate.
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.
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
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 opened.
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.
Steps and ladders leading from the ground
to the pool should be secured and locked, or removed when the pool is not
RULES FOR POOLS
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 know CPR.
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.
NOTE: To obtain detailed barrier recommendations,
write CPSC, Pool Barriers, Office of Information & Public Affairs,
Washington, DC 20207. For more information, call the CPSCís toll-free hotline
at 1-800-638-2772 or visit its website at http://www.cpsc.gov.
|Article Source - U.S. CPSC
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