Summer takes its time arriving in Western Washington but when it does, we love our swimming pools. Children especially enjoy jumping in and cooling off whenever the opportunity presents itself. For parents and other adults, this requires heightened levels of awareness and safety consciousness throughout the season.
Every year, 300 children under the age of 5 drown in backyard pools and an additional 2,600 are treated in emergency rooms. Most of these incidents happen in the summer and often seem to occur in a split second when attention has momentarily lapsed. “Most young children who drowned in pools were last seen in the home, had been out of sight less than 5 minutes, and were in the care of one or both parents at the time,” says State Farm Agent Melanie Bakala.
- Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child.
- Teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
- Barriers should be at least 4 feet tall.
- For inground pools, fences should be no higher than 4 inches from the ground.
- Remove handholds or footholds and restrict cutouts, openings and spaces to 1.25 inches. Choose gates that are self-closing or self-latching and install gates so they open away from the pool.
- Position gate latches out of the reach of young children or use a childproof closure.
- Remove ladders and slides when using a pool cover.
- Above ground pools should have steps and ladders that can be locked or removed when not in use.
- Choose covers capable of supporting two adults and a child and that comply with American Society for Testing and Materials standards. Be sure your cover can be quickly removed in an emergency.
- Install alarms on doors opening out to the pool or hot tub.
- Maintain constant supervision.
- Avoid distractions when supervising children around water.
If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
- Have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
- Empty portable pools when not in use. Children can drown in as little as one inch of water. Make sure all portable inflatable and baby pools are drained and put away immediately after use.
- Remove toys from the pool when it is not in use. They can attract young children into the pool. It’s best to keep them stored out of sight.
- Install self-latching or self-closing doors out to the pool from your home.
Melanie Bakala has offices in both Shelton and Lacey. Learn more by visiting her State Farm Agent website or calling 360-426-2428 (Shelton) or 360-972-7905 (Lacey).