One of the pleasures of summer is enjoying time at the pool. However, any time spent around water (especially with children) presents certain risks. For example, did you know:
- Ten people die each day from unintentional drowning, and on average two of them are under age 14. Disclosure 1
- Drowning is the leading cause of death among children ages 1 to 4—more than any other cause except birth defects. Disclosure 1
- For children under age 5, 87% of drowning fatalities happen in home pools or hot tubs, and most take place in pools owned by family or friends. Disclosure 2
- Males have twice the mortality rate of females when it comes to drowning. Disclosure 2
Follow these tips to keep your family safe when poolside this summer.
1. Make sure everyone knows how to swim.
Learning how to swim can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% for children ages 1 to 4 who have had formal swimming lessons. Disclosure 2 Even if everyone knows how to swim, make sure you have life jackets or another type of strong flotation device nearby in case of an emergency. Don’t rely on floaties, inner tubes, or noodles; those are toys and not true flotation devices.
2. Talk to your kids about water safety.
Children don’t see danger like adults do. Just as you teach your kids to buckle up in the car and look both ways before crossing the street, make sure they understand that water can be very dangerous; they should never go in or near a pool without a trusted adult with them.
3. Keep an eye on children.
Close supervision is a must when children are in or around a pool. Drowning can happen quickly and quietly. It’s always a good idea to have a designated guardian watch kids at all times while they’re at the pool. If several adults are present, try taking turns with “water-watching duty.” Never leave children unattended at the pool.
4. Know what a person in distress looks like—and know CPR.
People of any age can drown silently and quickly, often when they’re vertical in the water with their heads tipped back. Unlike what you see in movies, children rarely splash in the water, flail their arms, or yell for help while drowning.
Typically bystanders are the first ones to help a drowning victim, so knowing CPR can help you save someone’s life before an emergency responder arrives. Learn about CPR classes and certifications at the American Red Cross.
5. Fence in your pool area—on all four sides.
While experts recommend four-sided fencing around a pool’s perimeter, it’s not legally required in the United States. However, law or no law, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends a four-sided fence of at least four feet in height should surround a pool on all sides, and the pool should be accessible only through a self-closing, self-latching gate. Disclosure 3
6. Ensure pools have compliant drain covers.
Few parents realize that children can die if they get sucked into a faulty or uncovered pool drain. Since the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act went into effect in December 2008, all public pools and spas in the U.S. are required to have anti-entrapment drain covers installed. If you have a swimming pool at your home, ask your pool service representative to update your drains and other suction fittings with anti-entrapment covers and other devices or systems. Disclosure 4
Also keep in mind that powerful suction from a pool drain can even trap an adult. It’s best to avoid swimming near drains, and always make sure hair is tied back and that swimsuits don’t have any loose ties floating in the water that could become sucked into the drain.
Keep your family and your home protected
Swimming pools also affect your insurance, as homeowners can be held liable when an accident occurs at their pool. And it’s also a good idea to have a personal umbrella/excess liability policy to keep your family and your home protected as well if you have a pool on your property. Get in touch with your McGriff insurance professional if you have any questions about insurance coverage to protect you from the risks associated with owning a pool.
American Red Cross, “Drowning Prevention & Facts,” https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/water-safety/drowning-prevention-and-facts.html, accessed June 7, 2021.
Stop Drowning Now, “Facts & Stats About Drowning,” https://www.stopdrowningnow.org/drowning-statistics/, accessed June 7, 2021.
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, “Pool Safely: Simple Steps to Save Lives,” https://www.poolsafely.gov/parents/safety-tips/, accessed June 7, 2021.
Parents.com, “Home Swimming Pool Safety Tips All Parents Should Know,” https://www.parents.com/kids/safety/outdoor/pool-drowning-safety-tips-for-parents/, accessed June 7, 2021.
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