Your swimming pool - what you really need to know to be safe  

by Pool Builders on 03-12-2007 in Articles

Without doubt, swimming pools are fantastic fun, and great for keeping fit. However it's easy to forget, that they're also dangerous, particularly for small children.

There are some quite scary statistics out there relating to swimming pools and children. As there seems to be little out there, in terms of research done in the UK, here's a snapshot taken from an alert issued by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Each year, in the US, more than 300 children under 5 years old drown in residential swimming pools, usually owned by their family. In addition, more than 2,000 children in that age group are treated in hospital A&E for submersion injures.

Some shocking statistics

A comprehensive study of drowning and submersion incidents involving children under 5 years old in Arizona, California, and Florida issued the following findings:

∑ 75% of submersion victims were between 1 and 3 years old

∑ 65% of the group were boys. Toddlers, in particular, often do something unexpected because their capabilities change daily.

At the time of the incidents, most victims were being supervised by one or both parents.

∑ 69% of the children were not expected to be at or in the pool, yet they were found in the water.

Submersion incidents involving children usually happen in familiar surroundings.
∑ 65% of the incidents happened in a pool owned by the child's family

∑ 33% of the incidents happened in a pool owned by friends or relatives.

Pool submersions involving children happen quickly. A child can drown in the time it takes to answer a phone.
∑ 75% of the victims had been missing from sight for 5 minutes or less.

Survival depends on rescuing the child quickly and restarting the breathing process, even while the child is still in the water. Seconds count in preventing death or brain damage.

Child drowning is a silent death. There's no splashing to alert anyone that the child is in trouble.

It's not the law, yet!

It's facts like these that have now led to the French government to create new legislation regarding pool safety. And although these laws do not apply throughout the EU as yet, they're probably not far away, so be prepared!

These laws are now being enforced, with some stiff penalties for those who do not comply, such as a €45,000 fine.

To comply with the law, the standards for pool security systems have been set by AFNOR (the body responsible for French safety standards) so that any method of security fitted must conform to the specifications outlined.

There are four types of approved security system:

1. Security Barriers, AFNOR standard: NF P 90-306.
2. Pool Alarms, AFNOR standard: NF P 90-307.
3. Pool Covers, AFNOR standard: NF P 90-308.
4. Pool Abris/Enclosures, AFNOR standard: NF P 90-309.

There's more than just being safe

A pool abris, or enclosure, whilst probably being the most expensive of the options, offers many advantages, as well as it being an approved security device. It will help heat the water in your pool, keep out debris, reduce chemical usage and evaporation, and if you heat your pool, it effectively turns it into an indoor pool you can use all year round.

Whatever your chosen method of security, make sure your pool is safe.

Here's our top ten tips

1. The obvious one. Never leave a child unsupervised near a pool.

2. During social gatherings at or near a pool, you should appoint a " watcher" to protect young children from pool accidents.

3. Instruct babysitters or childcare assistants, about the use of protective devices, such as door alarms and latches. Emphasize the need for constant supervision.

4. If a child is missing, check the pool first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.

5. Do not allow a young child in the pool without an adult.

6. Do not consider young children to be safe just because they've had swimming lessons. Children must be watched closely while swimming.

7. Do not use inflatable toys or lilo's as a substitute for supervision.

8. You should seriously consider learning CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). As should Babysitters and other childminders, such as grandparents and older siblings.

9. Keep rescue equipment by the pool. Be sure you have a telephone or mobile at the poolside, with emergency numbers posted nearby.

10. Remove toys from in and around the pool when it is not in use. Toys can attract young children to the pool.

Got more?
The above list is not exhaustive, so if you've got anything to add, I'd be delighted to hear from you. Please see the author box for details.

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