The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that each year, 260 children under the age of 5 drown in swimming pools, and many are entrapped by the suction from dangerous pool and spa drains. To help keep people safe in a season when many people seek relief from the heat in pools, the American Red Cross offers the following swimming safety guidelines:
- “Learn to swim. The best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is learn to swim well.
- Never leave a child unattended around water. Children should never swim unsupervised, and everyone should always swim with a buddy.
- Always keep basic lifesaving equipment by the pool and know how to use it. A reaching pole, a ring buoy, a portable phone and U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation devices are recommended. A pool alarm can also add a layer of protection.
- Be sure the pool is surrounded on all sides by a fence that is at least four feet high. It should not provide any footholds which would allow a child to climb over or spacing to climb through. The fence should have a self-closing, self-latching gate that is locked when the pool is not in use.
- Learn Red Cross CPR. Insist that babysitters, grandparents and others who care for your child know CPR. Post CPR instructions in the pool area.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics, among other recommendations, advises the following:
- “Do not let your child use air-filled ‘swimming aides’ because they are not a substitute for approved life vests and can be dangerous.
- Remove all toys from the pool after use so children aren’t tempted to reach for them.”
The CPSC advises that the dangers of drain-related entrapment can be reduced by heeding this advice:
- “Never use a pool or spa with a missing or broken drain cover. Be sure a newer, safer drain cover is in place. The new drain covers are normally dome-shaped — instead of the old flat drain covers.
- Consider adding a Safety Vacuum Release System (SVRS), a device that will automatically shut off the pump if a blockage is detected.
- Have a professional regularly inspect your pool or spa for entrapment or entanglement hazards.
- Plainly mark the location of the electrical cut-off switch for the pool or spa pump.
- If someone is entrapped against a drain, cut off the pump immediately. Instead of trying to pull the person away from the powerful suction, pry a hand between the drain and the person’s body to break the seal.”
Area residents of Montgomery County, MD are also encouraged to call that county’s Pool Safety Hotline this year to request a free evaluation of their private swimming pool. The hotline number is (240) 777-2239.
If you or a family member has suffered injuries from defective swimming pool conditions, please contact Regan Zambri and Long at (202) 463-3030 or contact us on line.