Many parents may think that the home is the safest place for a child, but 74 percent of drowning deaths involving children younger than 15 years old occur at a residence. Private homes rarely have lifeguards, and children can easily slip outside unnoticed when homes do not have door or window alarms.
Leveraging the Layers of Protection by Pool Type
Whether you have an in-ground, above-ground or portable pool at your home or in your community, it is critical that pool and spa owners install layers of protection between the house and the water. Layers of protection can include a four-foot-tall, non-climbable fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate, alarms on all doors and windows leading from the house to the pool area and well-maintained pool and spa covers.
Portable and above-ground pool owners can take extra steps, as well. Empty portable pools after every use, and store them to keep kids safe and remove ladders from above-ground pools when they are not in use. All pool owners should make sure that neighbors, babysitters and visitors know that they have a pool in their yard and should always designate an adult Water Watcher when kids are in the pool.
Understanding the Law to Help Prevent Drowning Injuries
Similar to the data on drowning fatalities, the majority of nonfatal drownings occur in a residential setting. While it is important to follow the simple safety steps around all bodies of water, there is one distinction when it comes to water safety in public versus private pools: a federal law.
The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (VGBA) is a federal law that requires public pools and spas to have safer and compliant drain covers to avoid entrapment hazards. Entrapments occur when powerful suction from the water circulation system in a pool or spa causes someone to become trapped underwater.
Why is this important? Because no public pool or spa should be open if the facility is not compliant with this federal law.
While private/residential pools are not covered under the VGBA, Pool Safely recommends that they also have safer drains. Children should be taught to stay away from drains, filters and suction openings in pools and spas, because it is easy for long hair, jewelry and bathing suits to get caught in these drains.
*Data derived from the CPSC Submersion Report provides estimates and averages for drowning injuries and deaths. The report estimates pool and spa deaths involving children younger than 15 years of age between 2012 and 2014; for injuries for the same group, annual estimates are derived from years 2014 to 2016.