Swimming Pool Safety
Protect Your Family This Summer
More than 350 Children Drown Each Year in Swimming Pools in the U.S.
As a home inspector I am amazed at how many homes with swimming pools do not have adequate pool barriers and safety precautions in place.
Each year in the United States, about 350 children under 5 years old drown in swimming pools, usually a pool owned by their family. In addition, more than 2,000 children in that age group are treated in hospital emergency rooms for submersion injuries. The following information can help provide young children with the protection they deserve.
Most jurisdictions require some type of barrier at a pool and spa to prevent drowning. A few simple precautions could save a life this summer:
Pool Fence - a fence or barrier a minimum of 48" in height should completely surround the pool or spa.
Gates - pedestrian access gates should open outward, away from the pool, and should be self-closing and have a self-latching device.
Where a wall of a dwelling serves as part of the barrier, one of the following should apply:
Door Alarm - all doors with direct access to the pool should be equipped with an alarm that sounds when the door is open.
Safety Cover- the pool should be equipped with a power safety cover.
Self Closing Doors - Other means of protection, such as self-closing doors with self-latching devices, are acceptable so long as the degree of protection afforded is not less than the protection described in (3) and (4) above.
Please be aware that swimming pools installed, constructed or substantially modified after December 14, 2006 must be equipped with an approved pool alarm which is capable of detecting a child entering the water.
Where an above-ground pool structure is used as a barrier, or where the barrier is mounted on top of the pool structure, and the means of access is a ladder or steps, then:
Ladder - the ladder to the pool or steps should be capable of being secured, locked or removed to prevent access; or
the ladder or steps should be surrounded by a barrier which meets local requirements. When the ladder or steps are secured, locked or removed, any opening created should not allow the passage of a 4-inch-diameter sphere.
And of course never leave a child unattended in the pool. During parties or gatherings it is a good idea to designate at least one responsible adult to monitor the pool.
These guidelines on barriers were adapted from information by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission at http://www.cpsc.gov. This newsletter is intended to raise awareness of pool safety and does not include all required safety measures. You should contact your local government and/or pool company for complete requirements.