Pool Safety Begins in Your Own Backyard

At parks and beaches, there are fences, barriers and trained lifeguards on duty to keep swimmers and their families safe. Unfortunately, many residential pools don’t have the same safety measures in place.

Without proper poolside precautions, summer celebrations could quickly turn tragic.

“Each year, more than 250 children under the age of 5 are drowning victims, often in their own backyards,” said John Drengenberg, manager of consumer affairs for Underwriters Laboratories Inc., a not-for-profit product safety certification organization.

Drengenberg says a child in trouble may not be able to alert anyone by splashing or yelling for help.

“We all need to be more aware and attentive whenever our families are around a pool,” said Drengenberg. He offers these tips for keeping your summer pool parties safe.

* Follow the “10/20 pool patrol” rule. Anytime kids are in the water, have an adult on pool patrol. A supervising adult needs to be able to scan the entire pool every 10 seconds and reach the water within 20 seconds.

* If you own a pool, learn infant and child CPR and make sure your children take swimming lessons.

* If a child is missing and a pool is in the area, don’t waste valuable time searching elsewhere: Always check the pool first.

* Install a fence that is at least 4 feet high with a self-closing, self-latching gate that has a locking mechanism beyond a child’s reach. The fence should completely separate the pool from the house and play area of the yard.

* Remove any overhanging tree limbs, chairs or ladders from the area to prevent children from climbing over the fence surrounding the pool. For above-ground pools, remove ladders and portable steps.

* Consider adding a pool motion sensor and gate alarms to alert you to anyone approaching or jumping into the pool.

* Don’t forget a pool cover. Power safety covers are recommended for in-ground pools.

* Keep rescue devices such as life preservers at poolside. Also, have a telephone nearby and appropriate emergency numbers posted.

* Remove all toys when you leave the pool. Floats, balls and other toys may attract children to the unattended pool.

* Always empty wading pools after your children are finished playing. Infants can drown in just a few inches of water.

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