The consumer product safety commission just released it’s 2018 submersion and entrapment report for pools and spas. While the statistics in it are pretty sobering, especially if you’re a parent, the good news is that the numbers did not increase over last year’s levels.
Still, on average, there were 351 fatal drownings in pools and spas among children younger than 15 with the overwhelming majority being children under 5.
Taking a quick look around your pool can help to ensure your pool is as safe as possible.
Check Your Pool Barrier Fence
- Any deteriorated components should be repaired.
- Measure at least four feet in height from the top of the fence to the ground on the side away from the water.
- Be sure the fence surrounds the pool or spa on all sides.
- If the home acts as the 4th side, ensure all doors leading out have an alarm.
- Make sure the fence is not climbable and check to be sure there are no objects near the fence that can be used as a step up to get over the fence.
- Any vertical members on the fence should be 4 inches or less apart from each other.
- Check to make sure it is no more than 4 inches from the bottom of the fence to the ground.
Is Your Gate in Working Order?
- Gates should open out from the pool.
- Check to be sure the self-closing mechanism is in working order and closes forcefully enough for the gate to latch.
- If the latch is low enough to be reached by a child, generally 54 inches or less from the ground, it should be located on the pool side of the gate.
- Make sure there is not an opening greater than ½ inch in diameter within 18 inches of the latch if it is on the pool side.
Is Your Home the 4th Side?
- All doors that allow access to a swimming pool should be equipped with an audible alarm which sounds when the door and/or screen are opened.
- The sound from the alarm should last for 30 seconds or more within 7 seconds after the door is opened.
- The alarm should be loud: at least 85 dBA (decibels).
- Alarm sounds should be distinct from other sounds in the house, such as the telephone, doorbell and smoke alarm.
- The alarm should have an automatic reset feature to temporarily deactivate the alarm for up to 15 seconds to allow adults to pass through house doors without setting off the alarm. The deactivation switch could be a touchpad (keypad) or a manual switch, and should be located at least 54 inches above the threshold and out of the reach of children.
- Self-closing doors with self-latching devices should be installed where practical in conjunction with alarms.
- Never have a pet or doggy door if the door leads directly to a pool.
What About the Pool Itself?
- Maintain pool and spa covers in good working order.
- Ensure any pool or spa you use has anti-entrapment safety drain covers; ask your local pool service if you are unsure.
- Have life saving equipment such as life rings, floats or a reaching pole available and easily accessible.
- Ensure all pool electrical connections are properly encapsulated and grounded.
Maintaining pools, fences, barriers, alarms and covers in good order can be lifesaving devices, especially for children. It is always a good practice to inspect your pool at least once a year and make any necessary repairs.
To find more information, you can download the Pool Barrier Guidelines form the CPSC.