When it comes to pool safety, even the most watchful parents can have a lapse in awareness, and often that is just enough to invite a tragedy. Studies have shown that the best way to protect your children or their friends is with a layered approach to pool safety.
In many states like California, Arizona, Florida, the leading cause of death for children under five is pool drowning, and in many other states it’s the second leading cause of death. What may surprise you is how many of those deaths occurred with supervision and other pool safety measures already in place. It has been proven time and time again that the safest approach to pool safety is a layered approach where there are multiple safety devices in place. Here are some alarming statistics.
- 69% of pool accidents occurred while both parents were supervising the children.
- 77% of children who drowned were seen 5 minutes or less before being missed and found in the pool.
- 65% of children who drowned were in their own pool.
- 69% of child drowning victims were thought to be away from the pool.
- Only 31% of drowning victims were last seen near the pool area.
Even with both parents supervising, children still drown in their own pools at an alarming rate. One would think that children in a household where there is a pool would be well trained about the dangers of their pool. Whether they were or not, the accidents still happen. In fact, in many cases of drowning or other pool submersion accidents, there were some safety measures in place. Experts believe that the best approach here is to have a layered system of safety in place.
Top Pool Safety Devices
When it comes to pool safety, the best results have been when there have been two or more layers of protection between the child and a pool accident. Here are some safety measures that are available today.
- Parental Supervision: Parental supervision is an obvious choice. The problem here is that no one is perfect. Parents can be distracted. Often when both parents are jointly responsible, one parent will become distracted doing something else believing the other parent is watching. Having one parent responsible at a time forces that parent to be more on their guard.
- Pool Fence: Most people have a fence around their pool. This is still a good idea even if your children are no longer living at the home or you don’t have children. A pool fence can be enough to keep out curious neighbor children.
- Gate, window, and door alarms: Not only should the gate(s) in your pool fence have alarms, but any doors or windows with pool access should be alarmed as well.
- Pool Surface Alarm: A surface alarm can be helpful, but not always accurate. The device depends on their being enough splashing around or other disturbance to trigger the alarm. The problem here is that many pool drowning occurs with little to no noise or splashing around. They often happen quickly and quietly.
- Sub Surface Pool Alarm: Sub surface alarms are much more sensitive and more likely to pick alarm when a person has fallen in and are struggling underwater. However, for the same reasons as the surface alarm, they can be ineffective at times.
- Personal Safety Alarm: Worn by children, or anyone who cannot swim, these devices are very reliable. When wet, the alarm triggers a loud noise that is picked up and broadcast by a central transmitter, usually in some central location in the house. These tend to be very reliable.
While every safety measure listed here can be reliable, no device, fence, or parent is perfect. Parents or other babysitters or caregivers can be distracted, devices in the pool can fail, gate alarms and locks malfunction, and it only takes a few seconds for a wonderful sunny day to become a disastrous one.
The Layered Approach
Because no one person or device is perfect, the best way to eliminate pool accidents is to take the layered approach. Install locks and alarms on your gate and any window or door with pool access. Have some sort of pool alarm, as well as having your children wear personal alarm devices. Your odds of every single layer of defense malfunctioning at the same time are extremely low. The problem is, too many parents place too much faith in these devices, or in their own ability to never become distracted.
You may think you would never be distracted, but what happens when one child in the home starts screaming and you have another one near the pool? The obvious thing would be to grab the child near the pool and run to the other one in distress. The issue here is that a sudden cry for help can short circuit a person’s brain and cause then to not use their best judgment. However unlikely that scenario is, it still happens.
A Final Thought
Beware the doggie door. A pet door with access to the backyard where your pool is can still be a problem. Small children find doggie doors to be fascinating and enjoy trying to make their little bodies fit through the tiny door that Fido uses. Have some way to secure the door in a way that your child will not be able to circumvent. When you think pool safety, think layers, and you will probably never need to dial 911.
Your last layer of defense should always be first aid, including child and infant CPR. You should know how to treat cuts, sprains and bruises that can happen in a pool area, and you should know what to do for a drowning victim, including CPR if necessary. That is your final layer of pool safety.