According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an estimated 260 children under five years of age drown each year in residential swimming pools and spas. The Commission estimates that another 3,000 children under age five are treated in hospital emergency rooms following submersion accidents each year. Some of these submersion accidents result in permanent brain damage.
Nationally, drowning is the fourth leading cause of death to children under five. In some states such as California, Florida and Arizona, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death to children under five.
CPSC offers the following tips for pool owners:
- Never leave a child unsupervised near a pool.
- Instruct babysitters about potential hazards to young children in and around swimming pools and the need for constant supervision.
- Completely fence the pool. Install self-closing and self-latching gates. Position latches out of reach of young children. Keep all doors and windows leading to the pool area secure to prevent small children from getting to the pool. Effective barriers and locks are necessary preventive measures, but there is no substitute for supervision.
Do not consider young children "drown proof" because they have had swimming lessons; young children should always be watched carefully while swimming.
- Do not use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision.
- Never use a pool with its pool cover partially in place, since children may become entrapped under it. Remove the cover completely.
- Place tables and chairs well away from the pool fence to prevent children from climbing into the pool area.
- Keep toys away from the pool area because a young child playing with the toys could accidentally fall in the water.
- Remove steps to above ground pools when not in use.
- Have a telephone at poolside to avoid having to leave children unattended in or near the pool to answer a telephone elsewhere. Keep emergency numbers at the poolside telephone.
- Learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).
- Keep rescue equipment by the pool.
PARENTS AND GUARDIANS: ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT A DROWNING. WATCH YOUR CHILD CLOSELY AT ALL TIMES. MAKE SURE DOORS LEADING TO THE POOL AREA ARECLOSED AND LOCKED. YOUNG CHILDREN CAN QUICKLY SLIP AWAY AND INTO THE POOL.
CPSC requests that consumers report incidents of drowning or "near drowning" by calling the Commission toll-free at 1-800-638-2772.
THE CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION CAUTIONS DIVERS ABOUT IMPROPER DIVING PRACTICES
Diving injuries can result in quadriplegia, paralysis below the neck, to divers who hit the bottom or side of a swimming pool, according to CPSC. Divers should observe the following precautions:
- Never dive into above-ground pools. They are too shallow.
- Don't dive from the side of an in-ground pool. Enter the water feet first.
- Dive only from the end of the diving board and not from the sides.
- Dive with your hands in front of you and always steer up immediately upon entering the water to avoid hitting the bottom or sides of the pool.
- Don't dive if you have been using alcohol or drugs because your reaction time may be too slow.
Improper use of pool slides presents the same danger as improper diving techniques. Never slide down head first-slide down feet first only.
CPSC Document #5097
Pool Safety Internet Resources:
- Swimming Pool Safety Tips: learn about the 'LAYERS OF PROTECTION' to keep your kids safe around a pool, including supervision, locked access doors to the pool area, a fence around the pool and water survival training. "The goal, with instituted layers of protection, is to come as close to a 'fail safe' system of preventing drowning incidents as possible. Meaning that if there is a momentary lapse of supervision for whatever reason, we have several backup systems in place. All must fail before a drowning can take place. A door has been left unlocked or open; the alarm system or device for the door has been turned off; the pool safety barrier has been left open; your child does enter the water, panics and does not attempt to utilize survival swim training; CPR is administered too late to save the child."
- Safety Barrier Guidelines for Home Pools: Swimming pools should always be happy places. Unfortunately, each year thousands of American families confront swimming pool tragedies - drownings and near-drownings of young children. These tragedies are preventable. This U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) handbook offers guidelines for pool barriers that can help prevent most submersion incidents involving young children.
- Water Safety: tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics to keep your kids safe around water and prevent drownings.
- Drowning in Infants, Children and Adolescents: from the AAP Committee on Injury and Poison Prevention, recommendations for parents, pediatricians and the community to prevent drownings in children and adolescents.
- Swimming Lessons Recommendations: AAP statement, which states that children are not developmentally ready for formal swimming lessons until after their fourth birthday.