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Swimming Pool Safety

Swimming_pool_image_1 With the approach of the memorial day weekend, it's important to focus on swimming pool safety and the prevention of drowning incidents.

Here are some tips and information on how parents and pool owners can provide a safe pool environment.

Drowning remains the leading cause of death among children ages one to four and the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 1 to 14. Every year there are also an estimated 2,400 pool-related near-drownings among children 14 and under. In 2002, 337 children drowned in swimming pools, 70 percent of them young children ages 0-4.

Many of the young children that have drowned have simply wandered out of their own house or their relative’s or neighbor’s house into a backyard that doesn’t have a proper isolation fence or gate. Parents need to make sure they are up on the safety requirements for fences and gates surrounding their pool.  THE NUMBER ONE RULE IS TO ALWAYS KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR CHILDREN.

Active parent supervision is imperative when children are playing around pool areas.  Drowning can occur can happen in a matter of seconds. Approximately  two minutes following submersion, a child will lose consciousness. Irreversible brain damage occurs after four to six minutes and determines the immediate and long-term survival of a child.  Unfortunately, most of not all of the children who survive are left with some brain damage.

When a parent of guardian is watching a child in the pool, there should be no other distractions

Pool safety equipment, including pool covers should also be used to prevent drownings from happening. 

Additional steps that should be taken include an alarm for doors that lead to a residential pool areas. Alerting a parent that a child is entering the pool area can be the best precaution. Alarms can also be purchased  that detonate when a splash in the pool occurs.

Above_ground_pool Consumer Reports has issued a warning against above ground inflatable pools. These pools are usually not fenced in and should be emptied on a regular basis so they will not be a hazard. Unfortunately, most people fail to drain these pools.

See the warnings and recommendations about pool safety issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission

Pools and hot tubs also present the risk of entrapment. Entrapment occurs when part of a child’s body becomes attached to a drain because of the powerful suction of the filtration system. Death or serious injury can occur when the force of the suction overpowers children’s ability to free themselves from the drain.

Entrapment deaths can also occur when a child’s hair or swimsuit gets tangled in the drain or on an underwater object such as a ladder.

Entrapment is generally a little-known risk for drowning, but from 1985 to 2004,  34 children, 14 and under died as a result of pool and hot tub entrapment, and 130 children, 14 and under were injured.

Parents, caregivers and pool owners can help prevent drownings by following a few general safety tips.

  • Teach children to swim and not dive where the water is shallow
  • Parents should actively supervise children around water, and have a phone nearby to call for help in an emergency
  • Pool owners should ensure that their pool has four-sided fencing and a self-enclosing, self-latching gate to prevent a child from wandering into the pool area unsupervised.
  • Pool and hot tub owners should install a door and window alarm to alert them if a child wanders into the pool area unsupervised.
  • Parents should warn children about the dangers of drain entanglement and entrapment and teach them to stay away from drains.
  • Pool and hot tub owners should install protective measures to prevent entrapments, such as anti-entrapment drain covers, multiple drains, and a SVRS device to automatically release suction and shut down the pump should entrapment occur.

Thanks to Safe and Sound, an injury prevention service of T.C. Thompson Children’s Hospital at Erlanger, along with representatives from the Chattanooga Fire Department for this information.  Safe and Sound is a prevention service of T.C. Thompson Children’s Hospital and is the Chattanooga affiliate of Safe Kids Worldwide (formally known as the National SAFE KIDS Campaign), the first and  only national nonprofit organization dedicated solely to the prevention of unintentional childhood injury – the No.1 killer of children ages 14 and under.



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