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Summer pool safety tips

June 24, 2016
The best ways to stay safe in the pool this summer.

In the middle of the dog days of summer, there really isn't a better way to cool off than in your own backyard pool. With proper installation and maintenance, home pools are exceptionally safe to use and enjoy during the warmer months. However, design and treatment are only half the battle when it comes to pool safety. People of all ages should know the basics of pool safety and drowning prevention before getting in the water this summer.

"Pools are fun for the whole family, but parents and kids still need to be careful.”

As serene and tranquil as a pool may look, they are unfortunately still dangerous under the wrong circumstances. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that between 2005 and 2014, there were more the 3,500 incidents of unintentional drowning in the U.S. That's equivalent to around 10 lives lost per day. The population at highest risk of drowning is young children. In fact, 20 percent of all drowning victims were under the age of 14, and five times more received emergency treatment for injuries sustained in near-drowning accidents. Surviving a nonfatal drowning incident can require expensive and long-lasting medical care. In the worst cases, it can lead to permanent brain damage.

Pools shouldn't be scary, but parents and children need to be mindful of the risks. Since children are at the highest risk of suffering injuries in and around a pool, adults should prioritize supervision and education on pool safety. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission published a list of best practices for kids and parents when it comes to pool safety. Among their top tips:

  • Safety first:  Kids age 14 and younger should always be watched by a parent or adult, without exceptions. If the adult isn't in the pool themselves, they must be in a place with full visibility of the pool area.
  • Swimming lessons:  Children as young as 1 year can safely take swim lessons with a trained professional. Learning to swim at a young age drastically decreases the risk of drowning at any stage in life. Adults are encouraged to take lessons as well if they haven't ever done so.
  • Emergency training:  Supervising adults should know the signs of drowning and be prepared to assisting struggling swimmers. The CPSC also recommended learning CPR for worst-case scenarios.

Other pool basics

Proper supervision and skills are just the essentials to safe swimming. Pool owners also need to make sure they have the right equipment in place, as well as take care of the pool and all accessories.

Installing the right barrier around a home pool is essential for safety. Without a fence or other obstacle, small children could easily access a pool while unattended, which could create major issues. The American Red Cross recommended pool owners put in place a four foot high fence around the pool area, with a self-closing gate for an entrance. Pools or hottubs should remain covered while not in use, and ladders to above-ground pools should be removed.

It's equally important to keep pool water clean and clear as long as it's in regular use. According to the Red Cross, pool owners must ensure the water is kept at optimal chemical levels, and that circulation and filtration systems are working properly. Without these, water could become unsafe to swim in and potentially lead to sickness.

Ultimately, being safe around the pool means following some simple yet important rules. Make sure kids know not to run or play unsafely in or near the edge of the pool. By adhering to these tips, every family is sure to have a safe summer.