Swimming pools can rapidly transform a party into a nightmare.
Tragedy struck again this week in a backyard in Florida when a 3-year-old
girl fell into a pool and drowned, becoming the third toddler in as many days
to die in a drowning accident in Broward County. Drownings are the number
one cause of death for children under the age of five in Florida, according
to state Sen. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. About 75 children drown a year, and
four times as many suffer brain damage and other severe injuries in near
drownings. It's not just Florida, either. Swimming pool accidents are all
too common in the United States, according to the Consumer Product Safety
Commission. And they are becoming more frequent as more pools are built
across the county. About 23,000 pools are built each year in Florida alone
at a cost of about $25,000.
Swimming alone or without adult supervision leads to many child drownings.
Each year, headlines note the deaths of infants and children who tumble into
pools and drown because a gate was left open, or they were able to gain
access to a pool when no one was around to save them. Senator Wasserman
sponsored a new state law in Florida designed to help prevent such deaths
that took effect last year. Under the law, all new residential swimming
pools must have one of these safety features installed: a pool barrier fence,
a pool cover, exit alarms on all doors and windows with pool access, or
self-closing, self-latching doors with pool access.
The CPSC says there should be a fence at least six feet high around all sides
of the pool with a locked gate to keep children out, especially when there is
no supervision. The fence should be constructed so it is difficult to climb.
Lawn furniture, trees and shrubs should not be close enough to provide an
easy boost over the fence. Avoid using a side of the house as part of the
fence; toddlers have wandered out through an open patio door or window and
Of course, nothing can substitute for careful adult supervision. CPSC has
several common sense reminders for pool safety:
Drowning isn't the only hazard inherent in owning a pool. Many severe
injuries result from falling on slippery walkways and decks and falling from
diving boards and ladders. Diving and jumping into shallow water also are
major causes of serious injuries.
Sources used to create this article include the South Florida Sun Sentinel
and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.