Pools and Spas

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Among children ages 4 and under, there are approximately 300 residential swimming pool drownings each year. More than half of these drownings occur in the child’s home pool, and one-third occur at the homes of friends, neighbors or relatives.

  • Most children who drown in swimming pools were last seen napping in the home and had been missing from sight for less than five minutes – usually in the care of one or both parents at the time of the drowning.
  • Since 1980, more than 230 children, ages 4 and under drowned in spas or hot tubs.
  • African-American males ages 5 to 9 have a swimming pool-related drowning rate four and half times that of their Caucasian counterparts. African-American males ages 10 to 14 have a swimming pool-related drowning rate 15 times that of their Caucasian counterpart.
  • Installation of four-sided isolation fencing could prevent 50 to 90 percent of childhood residential swimming pool fatal drownings and non-fatal drownings. Door alarms, pool alarms and automatic pool covers, when used correctly, can add an extra level of protection.
  • Children ages 4 and under have the highest drowning death rate (two of three times greater than other age groups) and account for 80 percent of home drownings. These drownings typically occur in swimming pools and bathtubs.
  • More than half of drownings among children ages 1 to 4 are pool-related. Children ages 5 to 14 most often drown in open water sites.
  • Four states (Arizona, California, Florida and Oregon) and many communities have enacted safety laws requiring some type of fencing around residential pools.

Preventing Swimming Pool and Spa-related Accidents

  • There is no substitute for the supervision of a responsible adult.
  • Always keep children visible from your location – always.
  • Never leave a child unsupervised in or around a swimming pool or spa, even for a moment. Never rely on a personal flotation device (such as ‘water wings’) or swimming lessons to protect a child. Learn CPR and keep rescue equipment, a telephone and emergency numbers poolside.
  • Install four-sided isolation fencing, at least five feet high and equipped with self-closing and self-latching gates, around a home pool or spa. Fencing should completely surround swimming pools or spas and prevent direct access from a house or yard. Never prop open the gate to pool barrier or leave toys in and around the pool.
  • Never roughhouse or run near the pool.
  • Life preservers or ‘throw rings’ should be readily available in case of an emergency.
  • A life preserver is a device that is used to keep a person floating in the water.
  • A shepherd’s hook can also be used to pull a person to the side of the pool should an accident arise.
  • Float tubes, ‘water wings’ and ‘noodles’ are not considered personal flotation devices and should not be used as such.
  • Spas should be fenced or covered when not in use.
  • Spas are not wading pools or play areas. Spas are used by adults for relaxing or soothing sore muscles.
  • Spa water temperature can be high enough to burn or scald a child’s skin.

Facts and statistics were taken from The American Academy of Pediatrics Policy statement on ‘Drowning in Infants, Children and Adolescents,’ The Center for Disease Control Statistics on Unintentional Drownings and the National “Safe Kids” Worldwide program.