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.
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 of $300,000.
FACTS & FIGURES
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,
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
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 per-cent 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
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.
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.
Child drowning is a silent death. There’s no splashing
to alert anyone that the child is in trouble.
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.
are not child-proof, 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.
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 & GATES
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 below.
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.
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 is 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.
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.
and electrically powered alarms are available. The keypad 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.
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.
POWER SAFETY COVERS
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 that 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.
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.
and ladders leading from the ground to the pool should be secured
and locked, or removed when the pool is not in use.
RULES FOR POOLS
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 dis-ability. Go to the edge of the pool
and scan the entire pool, bottom and surface, as well as the
Do not allow a young child in the pool without an adult.
Do not consider young children to be drown proof because they
have had swimming lessons. Children must be watched closely
Do not use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision.
Learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Babysitters and other
caretakers, such as grand-parents 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.
Child In-Home Drowning Deaths
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) warns consumers
about hidden drowning hazards for small children in and
around the home. Recent data show that a third as many children
under age 5 (an average of about 115 annually) drown from
other hazards around the home as drown in pools.
of these deaths are associated with common household products.
two-thirds of the drowning deaths in the home, not including
pools, occur in bathtubs. Some of these bathtub drowning
deaths happened when children were in bath seats or rings.
buckets, often used for household chores, pose a serious
threat to toddlers. Their tall, straight sides combined
with their stability make it nearly impossible for top-heavy
infants to free themselves when they topple in headfirst.
are often overlooked as a drowning hazard in the home.
The typical scenario involves a child under 3-years-old
falling headfirst into the toilet.
and Hot Tubs pose another drowning hazard. A solar cover
can allow babies to slip into the water while the cover
appears to stay in place, hiding the child.
drowning deaths also occur in other containers that may
contain liquids, including coolers, sinks, fish tanks and
offers these safety tips to help prevent childhood drowning
deaths in and around the home.
leave a baby alone in a bathtub even for a second. Always
keep baby in arm's reach.
leave young children alone or with young siblings in a
bathtub even if you are using a bath seat or ring. Children
can drown quickly and silently.
the toilet lid down, and keep young children out of the
bathroom when unsupervised. Consider placing a latch on
the bathroom door out of reach of young children.
sure all containers that contain liquids are emptied immediately
after use. Do not leave empty containers in yards or around
the house where they may accumulate water and attract
secure the safety cover on your spa or hot tub.
CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) - it can be a lifesaver.