Pool Safely Campaign Leader, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Pool and spa safety are always important, but amid the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, they are especially important, as families continue to spend more time enjoying backyard and portable pools at home. Data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission shows that fatal child pool and spa drownings are on the rise, and residential locations, comprise a majority of reported fatal drowning incidents. You can help to reverse this trend, by taking simple steps to make their pools and spas safer. Even if you already practice water safety, an extra safety step could mean the difference between experiencing a close call, or calling 911.
Install layers of protection
Child drownings can and do happen, outside of designated swimming times, often when children gain access to a pool or spa without an adult’s knowledge. Barriers, including a four-sided fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate, alarms for the house or pool, and a power safety cover over the pool or spa, provide lifesaving layers of protection. Successful pool barriers prevent children from getting over, under, or through the barrier to keep them from gaining access to the pool without adult supervision.
Check your drains
We recommend that your pool or spa has drain covers that comply with federal safety standards. This includes complying with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act (VGB Act), which mandates that all public pool and spa circulation systems be outfitted with a properly installed anti-entrapment drain cover fitting. Compliant drains have a curved structure that prevents the drain from becoming fully blocked by a body part. If you are not sure about whether a drain is compliant, inspect the drain for proper labeling, and ask your pool service provider about safer drain covers.
Never leave a child unattended
Drowning is quick and silent. Often, drowning can go unnoticed if adults are distracted. Never leave a child unattended in or near water, and always designate an adult Water Watcher. Water Watchers are singularly focused on observing children in the water. Water Watchers should not be reading, texting, using a smartphone, or otherwise be distracted while on duty. Water Watchers should be prepared to call 911, quickly locate and use onsite pool safety equipment, and administer CPR in case of an emergency.
Learn essential skills
Lifesaving skills, like knowing how to swim and perform CPR, are essential for everyone, especially if your home has a pool or spa. All children and adults should learn how to swim. Bystanders are often first to aid a drowning victim, so learning CPR can also help save a life.
By following these tips, you can have peace of mind for a summer season that is safer and more fun. You never know which safety step might save a life, until it does.