Having a swimming pool is a great family activity that gets everyone outdoors and off their games. In Southern California towns like Temecula and Murrieta as well as San Diego, many homes have in-ground swimming pools and spas to get the most out of the beautiful weather.
The Other Side of Pools and Spas
However, there is another side to swimming pools that has created some horrible memories for some families. And, that side involves drownings. According to Riverside County government research, drowning is the leading cause of unintentional or accidental injury-related death for children, ages 1-4, in Riverside County. Of all drowning or near-drowning incidents, 86% are in backyard pools or spas.
Drowning is a quiet event. There doesn’t have to be splashing or screaming. And, a child can slip into a swimming pool in a matter of seconds. A child can lose consciousness in 30 seconds or less. They can also have irreversible brain damage after just four to six minutes submerged in water. Even if they survive a drowning, a child may have severe brain damage that requires life-long medical care.
In Riverside County and San Diego County, there have been increases in reported child drownings related to swimming pools and spas in the last few years. Even on a national basis, there has been an increase in drownings.
These are horrible things to think about. As parents, the team at SoCal Pool Fences cannot imagine the pain and grief associated with such a tragic event.
Ways to Avoid Drowning
To help you reduce the risk of drowning, there are many things you can do as a parent.
Add Layers of Protection
The first is to put more layers of protection between your kids and the swimming pool area.
These layers include non-climbable fencing that as four or five feet high. The fencing should have a fence gate that is self-closing and self-latching.
Other protective layers include pool security cover. These are anchored to the pool decking. These pool covers are not the thin blue covers that only serve to add warmth to the water or keep leaves out.
Finally, all windows and doors that face the pool area or lead to that part of your yard should have door and window alarms. These alarms go off when these doors or windows are opened.
Health and Safety Code Requirements
For those of you in California, these layers of protection became law in 2018. Here’s what the Health and Safety Code says:
Section 115922 of the Health and Safety Code is amended to read:
(a) Except as provided in Section 115925, when a building permit is issued for the construction of a new swimming pool or spa or the remodeling of an existing swimming pool or spa at a private single-family home, the respective swimming pool or spa shall be equipped with at least two of the following seven drowning prevention safety features:
(1) An enclosure that meets the requirements of Section 115923 and isolates the swimming pool or spa from the private single-family home.
(2) Removable mesh fencing that meets American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Specifications F2286 standards in conjunction with a gate that is self-closing and self-latching and can accommodate a key lockable device.
(3) An approved safety pool cover, as defined in subdivision (d) of Section 115921.
(4) Exit alarms on the private single-family home’s doors that provide direct access to the swimming pool or spa. The exit alarm may cause either an alarm noise or a verbal warning, such as a repeating notification that “the door to the pool is open.”
(5) A self-closing, self-latching device with a release mechanism placed no lower than 54 inches above the floor on the private single-family home’s doors providing direct access to the swimming pool or spa.
(6) An alarm that, when placed in a swimming pool or spa, will sound upon detection of accidental or unauthorized entrance into the water. The alarm shall meet and be independently certified to the ASTM Standard F2208 “Standard Safety Specification for Residential Pool Alarms,” which includes surface motion, pressure, sonar, laser, and infrared type alarms. A swimming protection alarm feature designed for individual use, including an alarm attached to a child that sounds when the child exceeds a certain distance or becomes submerged in water, is not a qualifying drowning prevention safety feature.
(7) Other means of protection, if the degree of protection afforded is equal to or greater than that afforded by any of the features set forth above and has been independently verified by an approved testing laboratory as meeting standards for those features established by the ASTM or the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).
(b) Before the issuance of a final approval for the completion of permitted construction or remodeling work, the local building code official shall inspect the drowning safety prevention features required by this section and, if no violations are found, shall give final approval.
At SoCal Pool Fences, all of our pool protection products, including our removable pool fences, pool gates, security covers, and alarms, meet all of these California requirements.
Other Preventative Measures to Avoid Drowning
One of the most important pool safety tips for parents is to never leave children alone with water like a swimming pool or pool. Children see water as fun and have a difficult time understanding the risks involved.
Always maintain some type of supervision around the pool and spa area if children are present. If you are hosting an event, have an adult who will stay and water the water all the time.
Even if you have these other layers of protection, don’t rely on them to replace this adult supervision. Also, don’t assume your child isn’t at risk of drowning because they’ve taken swim lessons.
Be Prepared for Drownings
Even with all the safety measures you may put in place, another one of our pool safety tips for parents is to prepare for the fact that a drowning could happen.
To be prepared, learn CPR and first aid. Also, if you don’t know how to swim, take lessons and learn the necessary rescue techniques. Keep rescue equipment near your swimming pool to help. Be sure to have emergency phone numbers nearby should you need that assistance.
Water and Pool Safety Organizations
Here are some good resources to have for further pool safety tips for parents both for Riverside County and nationally:
- Riverside County Children’s Injury Prevention Network: (800) 774-7237
- Riverside County Injury Prevention Services: (951) 358-7171
- Riverside County Building & Safety Department: (951) 955-1800
- American Red Cross: (951) 328-0013
- U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission: www.cpsc.gov
- Safe Kids of Inland Empire: www.safekids.org
- National Drowning Prevention Alliance: www.ndpa.org
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