July 26, 2022

Make this pool season a splash by diving into these 6 essential safety tips

The summer season is here, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) Pool Safely campaign is ready to kick off the fun with some pool and spa safety tips. No matter where you enjoy your pool fun this summer, it is essential to keep safety in mind at all times. Following pool safety guidelines can keep you and your family safer, so you can enjoy poolside fun for the whole summer.

New data from the Pool Safely campaign show that after two pandemic summers, fatal and nonfatal pool drowning rates are continuing to rise among children under the age of 15. The CPSC data show that per year, from 2017 through 2019, there was an average of 389, pool- or spa-related fatal drownings—more than one per day–among children under the age of 15. Of these 389 drownings, 73 percent involved children under the age of 5. Additionally, in 2021, 6,800 children were treated in hospitals for nonfatal pool- or spa-related injuries, a 17 percent spike from 2020.

Unfortunately, the data also show that children in historically excluded communities tend to drown at higher rates, and fewer know how to swim. CPSC data show, where race was known, nearly one-third of nonfatal drownings for 5- to 14- year-olds were Black/African American, who were 15 percent of the population. Research by Pool Safely collaborator, USA Swimming Foundation, shows that 64 percent of Black American children, and 45 percent of Hispanic children, cannot swim, compared to 40 percent of White children. Unfortunately, the difference in knowing how to swim continues to be a generational problem for communities of color. Research shows that if the parents can’t swim, there is a higher likelihood their children won’t know how to swim either.  This puts children of color at a higher risk of drowning. Through the Pool Safely campaign, CPSC is committed to eliminating these racial disparities and helping all children stay safer in and around the water.

As swim season kicks off, it is important to follow these six safety tips when you spend time at a pool or spa:

  1. Never Leave a Child Unattended.
    adult teaching kid how to swim
    It is important never to leave a child unattended while they are in or around water. Even if a lifeguard is present, the lifeguard may not be able to watch every part of the pool. Designating an adult Water Watcher can help ensure that each child is safe and accounted for while at the pool.
  2. Teach Kids How to Swim.
    kids in class learning how to swim
    Knowing how to swim can help children feel safe and confident while around the pool. It is important to enroll your children in swim lessons in your local areas and practice with them in your free time to strengthen their skills.
  3. Teach Children to Stay Away from Drains.
    Father and daughter swimming, underwater view
    Never enter a pool or spa with a loose, broken or missing drain cover. Children’s hair, limbs, jewelry or bathing suits can get caught in drains and suction openings. It is also important to find the emergency vacuum shut-off before entering a spa.
  4. Ensure All Pools and Spas Have Drain Covers Compliant with the Virginia Graeme Baker Act.
    ball in water
    Making sure that all pools and spas that you visit have VGB-compliant drain covers is critical to the safety of your children before they enter the water. Powerful suction from a pool or spa drain can trap adults as well. Check out this video from the Zac Foundation and Abbey’s Hope to learn about the differences between a dangerous, noncompliant drain cover and a safer, compliant drain cover.
  5. Install Proper Barriers.
    kid behind pool fence

    Fences, barriers, alarms and covers are all essential to the safety of children around pools and spas. Self-latching gates, pool door alarms, and non-climbable fences are all great ways to prevent pool and spa tragedies. Multiple layers of protection are safest.
  6. Learn How to Perform CPR.
    Children Practicing CPR
    Bystanders are often the first to aid a drowning victim. Getting CPR-certified at your local community centers, hospitals, or by contacting American Red Cross can help you save a life.Following these six steps will keep your family and friends happy and healthy while they enjoy poolside fun. Remember to:

    • Designate a water watcher every single time children in your care are in or near the water.
    • Make sure your kids know how to swim
    • Teach your kids to stay away from drains.
    • Ensure any pools and spas you visit or own have compliant drain covers.
    • Install proper barriers, covers, and alarms on any pool or spa you own.
    • As a parent or guardian, learn CPR.