American Homeowners Association Membership  
American Homeowners Association



Pool Accidents Plague Unwary Parents

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 drowned.

Of course, nothing can substitute for careful adult supervision. CPSC has several common sense reminders for pool safety:

* Obviously teach children to float or swim as soon as possible.

* Always provide competent adult supervision when the pool is in use, even adults should never swim alone.

* Caution children against showing off and playing rough and explain the dangers of running and diving recklessly.

* Never push others into the pool.

* When using water slides, always go feet first.

* Before diving or sliding, check to be sure that other swimmers are out of the way.

* Keep rescue devices and first aid supplies near the pool.

* Teach children what to do in case of emergency. An alarm bell that could summon help is a good idea.

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.