Swimming Pool Safety

(ARA) - When families buy homes with swimming pools, have a new pool built or buy an above-ground pool, they look forward to years of family fun and wonderful memories. But to ensure that all the memories are good ones, it’s vital to be aware of potential dangers, and take safety measures.

According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control, drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for children ages 1 to 4 in the United States. In the Sunbelt states, drowning is frequently the number one cause of injury-related death for children under five.

In addition, statistics from both the CDC and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) show that hospital treatment for near drowning is required for many children each year. Studies have shown that a significant number of drowning survivors suffer moderate to severe brain damage, which is not widely known.

“It happens everywhere, in ordinary neighborhoods, to caring, vigilant parents,” says Marcia Kerr, a CPSC investigator. Kerr, who lost her own son in a pool drowning accident says, “Homeowners should take steps immediately to ensure the safety of children who live in or visit their homes. Layers of protection are essential.”

Constant adult supervision is vital, but most parents of toddlers will attest to the fact that it’s impossible to supervise your children every second of every day. Isolation fencing and other barriers can give parents the time they need to realize their child is missing and to locate them.

Isolation fencing separates the pool from the home, as opposed to property line fencing, better known as “perimeter” fencing. Property line fencing keeps your neighbors’ children from accessing your pool, but does nothing to protect children in your own home.

Isolation fencing can either totally surround the pool or can enclose the patio and all doors leading from the home, to protect children who get out the door from moving beyond the patio. Parents of toddlers should ensure “doggy doors” are locked or within fenced areas. For above-ground pools, a smaller fence and gate surrounding the steps or ladder can be effective in preventing toddler access.

An Australian company, D&D Technologies, has designed the award-winning Magna-Latch magnetic, self-latching gate latch and Tru-close self-closing and rust-free gate hinges to meet CPSC recommendations and pool barrier code requirements. The company’s products are available in the United States through fencing contractors, pool supply stores, and select hardware and home improvement centers.

“The Magna-Latch features an extremely powerful magnet that draws the latch bolt from one housing into the other, latching it securely,” says D & D Technologies President David Calabria. “It operates without any mechanical interference, so it cannot jam. It’s rust free and carries a limited lifetime warranty.”

Both the Magna-Latch “Top Pull” model, which was designed to locate the latch release knob at the code-recommended 54-inch height when mounted on a 48-inch gate, and the shorter “Vertical Pull” model, designed for gates at least 5 feet tall, are key-lockable. With Tru-Close hinges, no external spring is required, and both the hinges and latch are fully adjustable at any time after installation by the homeowner.

Note that pool gates should be lockable for when homeowners are away from the property, but not self-locking. Since guests would not have a key, homeowners are likely to prop open a self-locking pool gate during a pool party, and that presents a significant danger to toddlers who may slip in unnoticed.

According to extensive research studies both in Australia and the U.S., a fence is the only barrier with proven effectiveness, but other products are recommended for additional “layers of protection.” For example, power safety covers that meet ASTM pool cover standards can be very effective if closed whenever the pool is not in use.

If the house forms one side of the barrier to the pool, then doors leading to the pool area should be protected with alarms that produce a loud sound when the door is unexpectedly opened. These are reasonably priced, but the homeowner must be committed to the use of the alarm for it to provide effective protection.

Self-closing sliding glass door closers with “child resistant” opening devices mounted at least 54 inches from the ground can also be useful protection.

For safety when children are in the pool, designate a “water watcher.” At a busy party, it’s best to have two water-watchers, one to watch the pool, one to watch (and count!) the children. Many fire departments now make free “water watcher” tags available to consumers.

A cordless telephone should be kept poolside at all times so that adults never have to leave the area to answer the phone while children are swimming, and to summon help if needed. All adults in the home should learn CPR, and it’s a good idea to keep a life ring and shepherd’s hook adjacent to the pool, along with a CPR review poster. And never leave toys in the pool area, including floating devices such as chlorine dispensers that look like toys.

With “layers of protection” in place, you can look forward to years of safe relaxation and enjoyment of your pool.

For more information, visit www.ddtechusa.com. For a free “Pool Safety Kit,” call (800) 716-0888, ext. 292 or email mwilliams@ddtechusa.com.

Courtesy of ARA Content

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