Pool fencing is not a substitute for parental guidance. We must watch our kids around water at all times. Drowning is the #1 cause of death for children under five in several states, beating out all others, including car accidents and disease. The safety of your family leaves no room for compromise. You should not have a pool without a fence. Door locks are not enough. Pool fencing is the best way to keep your children safe from your home’s greatest danger.
We encourage all families to learn pool safety, learn CPR and make a safe environment for your children. Here are several links on pool safety and organizations that promote pool safety.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
- 350 children under the age of five drown in pools each year nationwide.
- The majority of the deaths occur in June, July and August; most in backyard pools.
- Among unintentional injuries, drowning is the second leading cause of death to this age group after motor vehicle accidents. In some Sunbelt states such as California, Florida and Arizona, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death to children under five.
- Another 2,600 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year for near-drowning incidents. Some of these submersion accidents result in permanent brain damage.
- Medical costs for submersion victims during the initial hospitalization alone can be quite high. Costs can range from an estimated $2,000 for a victim who recovers fully to $80,000 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 $150,000.
In a comprehensive study of drowning and submersion incidents involving children under 5 years old in Arizona, California, and Florida, the CPSC found that:
- Most were young. Three quarters (75%) of the submersion victims were between 1 and 3 years old; More than half (65%) of this group, often do something unexpected because their capabilities change daily.
- Most were being watched by parents. At the time of the incidents, most victims were being supervised by one or both parents. Almost half (46%) of the victims were last seen in the house; one quarter (23%) were last seen in the yard or on the porch or patio; and 31% were in or around the pool before the accident. In all, 69% of the children were not expected to be at or in the pool, yet they were found in the water.
- Most happen in familiar surroundings. Submersion incidents involving children usually happen in familiar surroundings. 65% of the incidents happened in a pool owned by the child’s family and a third of the incidents happened in a pool owned by friends or relatives.
- Most accidents happen quickly. Pool submersions involving children happen quickly. A child can drown in the time it takes to answer a phone. More than 3 out of 4 of the victims (77%) had been missing from sight for 5 minutes or less.
- Seconds count. 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.
Rules For Pools
- Instruct babysitters about potential pool hazards to young children and about the use of protective devices, such as door alarms and latches. Emphasize the need for constant supervision.
- 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 disability. Go to the edge of the pool and scan the entire pool, bottom and surface, as well as the pool area.
- 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 while swimming.
- Do not use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision.
- Learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Babysitters and other caretakers, such as grandparents 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.
Barrier Prevention Tips
Many communities have enacted safety regulations governing residential swimming pools – in ground and above ground. It is up to parents to comply with these regulations.
Apart from these laws, parents who own pools can take their additional precautions to reduce the chances of their youngsters accessing the family pool or spa without adult supervision. The 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.
Remember: Barriers are not childproof, 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. Barriers 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 and Gates Prevent Children From Drowning
- Install 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.
- Use this as a guide when the release mechanism is located less than 54 inches from the bottom of the gate. If horizontal members are equal to or more than 45 inches apart, vertical spacing shall not exceed 4 inches.
- 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.
- When the release mechanism of the self-latching device is less than 54 inches from the bottom of the gate, the release mechanism for the gate should be at least 3 inches below the top of the gate on the side facing the pool. Placing the release mechanism at this height prevents a young child from reaching over the top of a gate and releasing the latch.
- Also, the gate and barrier should have no opening greater than 1/2 inch within 18 inches of the latch release mechanism. This prevents a young child from reaching through the gate and releasing the latch.
- There are 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. 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.