Access. It’s the one thing that children absolutely should not have when it comes to preventing fatal and non-fatal drownings.
Barriers, including a fence that completely surrounds the pool, alarms for the house or pool, and a power safety cover over the pool or spa, provide lifesaving layers of protection for children. A successful pool barrier prevents a child from getting over, under or through it and prevents the child from gaining access to the pool, except when supervising adults are present. Even if you already practice water safety, an extra safety step could mean the difference between a close call and a call to 911.
We would see a dramatic decline in the number of fatal and non-fatal drownings that occur each year in pools and spas, if owners and operators followed this checklist:
- Install a 4-foot fence around the entire perimeter of the pool or spa.
- Use self-closing and self-latching gates that open out from the pool, and ask neighbors to do the same, if they have pools or spas.
If your house serves as the fourth side of a fence around a pool, install and use a door or pool alarm.
- Make sure pool and spa covers are in good working order when the pool or spa is not in use. Make sure the control devices are kept out of the reach of children.
- If you have a portable pool, be sure to fence it, cover it or empty it, and store it away when not in use.
- If you have an above ground pool, secure, lock or remove the ladder when the pool is not in use, or surround it with a barrier.
You should also ask your local authorities if there are additional requirements for pool and spa owners in your local or state codes. It is important to remember that barriers are just one layer of protection to prevent fatal and non-fatal drownings. Never leave a child unattended in or near the water, and always designate an adult Water Watcher when children are in the pool or spa.
For more details on installing and maintaining effective barriers for residential pools, check out our Safety Barrier Guidelines for Residential Pools.