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Drowning Prevention Tips

Education must play a key part in the prevention of injuries from diving and water accidents that can result in drowning or near drowning. Newspapers, radio and TV stations should be encouraged to run public service announcements to inform the public of the risks of diving and other causes of drowning and near-drowning accidents.

In addition to education, there are certain devices, some of which require further study, and some of which are known to be helpful that can reduce the likelihood of aquatic accidents:

1. Phone near pool. Either a portable phone or an extension phone near the pool is important for at least two reasons: a) if a person receives a phone call or must make one, it is easier to supervise the pool area with a phone right there; b) if there is an emergency and help must be summoned, there will not be a long delaying going to the phone in another part of the house. CPR can be started immediately. Possibly, phone companies could do some public service advertising in this area.

2. Pool covers. A properly designed pool cover can be helpful. However, sometimes a child will go under the pool cover and be harder to locate, therefore, the cover must be designed to prevent that. There he is a new ASTM standard on covers.

3. Pool alarms. Seemingly, a pool alarm which could provide warning of a child going into a pool would help. However, it appears that an effective alarm has not yet been developed. The CPSC has commissioned a study of how to make an effective alarm.

4. Fences and barriers A proper barrier can be very helpful. However, a study is needed of what constitutes an effective barrier without being so hard to use the people purposely avoid it. There also is study needed to determine which types of fences are effective to prevent climbing.

5. Pool perimeter fencing. In addition to the normal fencing and barriers, there are a number of companies in the country that now provide pool perimeter fencing. This is a very simple and quick fence that goes around the perimeter of the pool, which will deter young children at least long enough that a short lapse in parental supervision or other supervision will not be fatal. Unfortunately, the average pool consumer is not aware of such fencing and the fact that it can save lives.

Perimeter fencing has been available for over two decades in the above- ground pool industry. Yet, none of the consumers that buy the pools and use these pools, especially those with young children, are made aware of such perimeter fencing. The use of perimeter fencing with above ground pools likewise can save many lives and prevent many near drownings.

6. House doors. Most injuries occur when the child goes out of the house unknown. This often happens because a door is left open -- or is opened. Very often, this is a sliding door. There is a need for further consideration of safety devices in this area.

7. Miscellaneous devices. Exposed ladders into a pool, pipes and filters, decks, etc., can make it easier to enter the pool. Ladder covers have been developed and certain design features are possible to minimize risks on other equipment.

The FAIP has for sometime been advocating educational prevention programs as mandatory to all pool packages. Specifically, FAIP believes that a videotape should be shown to any prospective pool purchaser including segments on near drowning as well as diving accidents, to expose the potential consumer and users to the hazards of a pool. The video should then be sold with pool packages and all purchasers should be instructed to show it to all users before using the pool.

8. Clarity of water. In some accidents, pool water is so cloudy that the drowning victim is not readily seen. Perhaps a device could be developed which could automatically release chemicals to clean the water.

9. CPR training. Once there has been a near drowning, the skill of a rescuer in CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) is crucial in minimizing the damage. Anything which encourages or requires CPR skills for anyone owning a pool would be helpful. Encouraging CPR for a pool purchaser is could help save lives.

10. The Four Rules. Teach your children these four key swimming rules:

  • Always swim with a buddy.
  • Don't dive into unknown bodies of water. Jump feet first to avoid hitting your head on a shallow bottom.
  • Don't push or jump on others.
  • Be prepared for an emergency.

Reporting Defective Products

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) also has its own prevention programs, but their effectiveness depends access to current aquatic injury information involving consumer products, such as pool covers, pool alarms, etc. Consequently, people who have sustained serious aquatic injuries are asked to contact the CPSC and provide detailed information about their accidents. This information will be used to develop nationwide prevention and product safety programs.

To report an aquatic injury or death involving consumer products, you can complete our Consumer Product Injury Report and we will forward the data to the CPSC. You can also write or call the CPSC at:

The Consumer Products Safety Commission
NEISS Injury Clearinghouse
Washington, DC 20207

Responsible Legal Action

Most of the aquatic diving injuries, drownings and near-drownings that occur each year could have been prevented. Equipment manufacturers and property owners are, or should be, aware of measures to prevent such serious injuries. However, many have not taken the steps required to promote safety devices or post warnings to prevent serious accidents from occurring. Often, the most effective preventative measures have resulted from litigation. Through responsible litigation, victims are forcing these parties to make the changes that prevent similar accidents and injuries. Legal action cannot reverse the injuries sustained in an accident, but it can open doors to a better life and help prevent others from becoming future victims.

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