A swimming pool in the yard can present a very dangerous area for
children. Drowning is the number one cause of death for children under five in Florida,
Arizona, and California with a ranking of number two for over a dozen other states. For
every drowning there are eleven near drowning incidents, according to government
statistics; many of which result in totally disabling brain damage. If you have a pool in
your yard, protect your children (and those in your neighborhood) by observing the
- Never leave your children alone in or near the pool, even for a
moment. Don't be distracted by doorbells, phone calls, chores or conversations. If you
must leave the pool area, take the child with you, making sure the pool gate latches
securely when it closes. 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
- Post rules such as: No running," "No pushing,"
"No dunking" and "Never swim alone." Enforce the rules.
- Instruct baby sitters 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. Be sure the person watching your child knows how to swim,
to get emergency help and to perform CPR.
- 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.
- Install a fence to separate your house from the pool. Most young
children who drown in pools wander out of the house and fall into the pool. The fence
should be 5-feet high and completely surround the pool. The fence must completely separate
the pool from the house and the play area of the yard.
- Use self-closing gates that self-latch, with latches higher than your
children's reach. Never prop open the gate to a pool barrier. After the children are done
swimming, secure the pool so they can't get back into it.
- Never use a pool with its pool cover partially in place, since
children may become entrapped under it. Remove the cover completely.
- Place tables, chairs and other objects well away from the pool fence
to prevent children from using them to climb into the pool area.
- Keep rescue equipment (such as a shepherd's crook or rescue tube) and
a telephone with emergency numbers noted by the pool.
- Avoid air-filled "swimming aids" because they are not a
substitute for approved life vests and can be dangerous should they deflate.
- Keep toys out of and away from the pool area when not in use. Young
children playing with or reaching for toys could accidentally fall in the water.
- Remember, teaching your child how to swim DOES NOT mean your child is
safe in the water.
- Don't assume that drowning or a drowning incident couldn't happen to
you or your family.
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