|According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 85% of the children who drown each year do so at their own or a friends' pool. The majority of these drownings can be attributed to momentary lapses in parental supervision combined with the lack of proper pool safety barriers.|
California, Arizona and Florida, drowning is the leading cause of accidental
death in and around the home for children under the age of 5 with a ranking
of number two for the nation.
Many communities have enacted safety regulations governing residential swimming pools, but it is up to parents to comply with these regulations.
Apart from these laws, parents who own pools can take their own precautions to reduce the chances of their youngsters accessing the family pool or spa without adult supervision.
|Foremost in protecting against drowning, all experts suggest erecting barriers to provide layers of protection for a child who strays from supervision. Barriers include a fence or wall, door alarms for the house, and a power safety cover over the pool.|
|According to the Injury Free Coalition for Kids, you should install child proof fencing around swimming pools. A successful pool barrier prevents a child from getting OVER, UNDER, or THROUGH and keeps the child from gaining access to the pool except when supervising adults are present. You must be aware of the potentially hazardous properties of a pool. Just how serious is the problem?|
Drowning is the number one cause of death for children under five in Florida, Arizona, and California with a ranking of number two for the nation.
For every drowning there are eleven near drowning incidents, according to government statistics; many of which result in totally disabling brain damage.
| The majority of the parents involved were responsible people who thought
it could never happen to their family. They were careful and had close
supervision over their children. So we are literally talking about people
who could live next door to you.
Return to Top
|Supervision Can and Does Fail|
|A study conducted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to find out how child - drowning incidents occur indicates that supervision can and does fail.|
| The investigation by the Commission was directed at children under age
five in Arizona, California, and Florida who had drown in home swimming
pools. The results might help you to better understand why drowning is still
the number one killer for three states and stands at number two for the
Who was in charge of supervision at the time of drowning?
|69 percent of the accidents occurred while one or both parents were responsible for supervision.|
|10 percent were adults other than the parents.|
|14 percent were sitters.|
7 percent were
What was the location of the pool drowning?
|65 percent were in a pool owned by the child's family.|
|22 percent were at a relatives' pool.|
11 percent happened
at a neighbor's pool.
Return to Top
|Consumer Product Safety Commission Suggests Installing Fences & Gates Completely Around Pools|
|The consumer Product Safety Commission suggests installing a fence or other
barrier, completely around the pool. If the house is part of the barrier,
the doors leading from the house to the pool should be protected with an
alarm or the pool should have a power safety cover.
- The fence or other
barrier should be at least 4 feet high. It should have no foot or handholds
that could help a young child to climb it.
- Vertical fence
slats should be less than 4 inches apart to prevent a child from squeezing
- For any pool
barrier, the maximum clearance at the bottom of the barrier should not
exceed 4 inches above grade, when the measurement is done on the side of the
barrier facing away from the pool.
- Gates should open
out from the pool and should be self- closing and self-latching. The gate
should have no opening greater than ½ inch within 18 inches of the latch
release mechanism. This prevents a young child from reaching through the
gate and releasing the latch.
- If the fence is
chain link, then no part of the diamond-shaped opening should be larger that
1¾ inch. The mesh size should not exceed 1¼ inches square.
Use this guide when the release mechanism is located less
than 54 inches from the bottom of the gate.
- If horizontal
members are equal to or more than 45 inches apart, vertical spacing shall
not exceed 4 inches.
- Fence gates should
be self-closing and self-latching. The gate should be well maintained to
close and latch easily. The latch should be out of a child's reach.
- When the release
mechanism of the self-latching device is less than 54 inches from the bottom
of the gate, the release mechanism for the gate should be at least 3 inches
below the top of the gate on the side facing the pool.
Note: Placing the release mechanism at this height prevents a young
child from reaching over the top of a gate and releasing the latch. Also,
the gate and barrier should have no opening greater than ½ inch within 18
inches of the latch release mechanism. This prevents a young child from
reaching through the gate and releasing the latch.
Return to Top
|BOCA National Building Code - Enclosures for Private Swimming Pools|
|You should always check with your nearest Building Department for current
codes/requirements pertaining to pool barriers in your area. The BOCA
National Building Code provided for reference below should only be used to
gain a basic understanding of the types of requirements you may encounter
THE BOCA NATIONAL BUILDING CODE/1999
|421.10.1 Enclosures for private swimming pools: Private swimming pools shall
be enclosed in accordance with Sections 421.10.1 or by other approved
|421.10.1 Outdoor private swimming pool: An outdoor-private swimming pool,
including an in-ground, above-ground or on-ground pool, hot tub or spa shall
be provided with a barrier which shall comply with the following.
|1. The top of the barrier shall be at least 48 inches above finished ground
level measured on the side of the barrier which faces away from the swimming
pool. The maximum vertical clearance between finished ground level and the
barrier shall be 2 inches measured on the side of the barrier which faces
away from the swimming pool. Where the top of the pool structure is above
finished ground level, such as an above-ground pool, the barrier shall be at
finished ground level, such as the pool structure, or shall be mounted on
top of the pool structure. Where the barrier is mounted on the pool
structure, the opening between the top surface of the pool frame and the
bottom of the barrier shall not allow passage of a 4-inch diameter sphere.
|2. Openings in the barrier shall not allow passage of a 4-inch diameter
|3. Solid barriers shall not contain indentations or protrusions except for
normal construction tolerances and tooled masonry joints.
|4. Where the barrier is composed of horizontal and vertical members and the
distance between the tops of the horizontal members is less than 45 inches,
the horizontal members shall be located on the swimming pool side of the
fence. Spacing between vertical members shall not exceed 4 inches.
Decorative cutouts shall not exceed 1¾ inches in width. Decorative cutouts
shall not exceed 1¾ inches in width.
|5. Where the barrier is composed of horizontal and vertical members and the
distance between the tops of the horizontal members is 45 inches or more,
spacing between vertical members shall not exceed 4 inches. Decorative
cutouts shall not exceed 13/4 inches in width.
|6. Maximum mesh size for chain link fences shall be a 11/4-inch square
unless the fence is provided with slats fastened at the top or the bottom
which reduce the openings to not more than 13/4 inches.
|7. Where the barrier is composed of diagonal members, such as a lattice
fence, the maximum opening formed by the diagonal members shall be not more
than 13/4 inches.
|8. Access gates shall comply with the requirements of items 1 through 7 of
Section 421.10.1, and shall be equipped to accommodate a locking device.
Pedestrian access gates shall open outwards away from the pool and shall be
equipped to accommodate a locking device. Pedestrian access gates shall open
outwards away from the pool and shall be self-closing and have a
self-latching device. Gates other than pedestrian access gates shall have a
self-latching device. Where the release mechanism of the self-latching
device is located less than 54 inches from the bottom of the gate: (a) the
release mechanism shall be located on the pool side of the gate at least 3
inches below the top of the gate; and (b) the gate and barrier shall not
have an opening greater than ½ inch within 18 inches of the release
|9. Where a wall of a dwelling unit serves as part of the barrier and
contains a door that provides direct access to the pool, one of the
following shall apply:
|9.1. All doors with direct access to the pool through that wall shall be
equipped with an alarm which produces an audible warning when the door and
its screen, if present, are opened. The audible warning shall commence not
more than 7 seconds after the door and door screen, if present, are opened
and shall sound continuously for a minimum of 30 seconds. The alarm shall
have a minimum sound pressure rating of 85 dBA at 10 feet and the sound of
the alarm shall be distinctive from other household sounds such as smoke
alarms, telephones and door bells. The alarm shall automatically reset under
all conditions. The alarm shall be equipped with manual means, such as
touchpads or switches, to deactivate temporarily the alarm for a single
opening from either direction. Such deactivation shall last for not more
than 15 seconds. The deactivation touchpads or switches shall be located at
least 54 inches above the threshold of the door.
|9.2. All doors with direct access to the pool through that wall shall be
equipped with a self-closing and self-latching device with the release
mechanism located a minimum of 54 inches above the floor. Swinging doors
shall open away from the pool area.
|9.3. The pool shall be equipped with a power safety cover. Where in a closed
position, the cover shall be capable of holding a weight of 485 pounds,
shall not have any openings that allow passage of a 41/2 inch sphere and
shall incorporate a system to drain standing water that collects on the
cover. The cover control switch shall be permanently installed in accordance
with NFPA 70 listed in Chapter 35, and be key-operated and of a
spring-loaded or momentary-contact type. Where the switch is released, the
operation of the cover shall stop instantly and be capable of reversing
direction immediately. The switch shall be in the line of sight of the
complete pool cover.
|10. Where an above-ground pool structure is used as a barrier or where the
barrier is mounted on top of the pool structure, and the means of access is
a fixed or removable ladder or steps, the ladder or steps shall be
surrounded by a barrier which meets the requirements of items 1 through 9 of
Section 421.10.1. A removable ladder shall not constitute an acceptable
alternative to enclosure requirements.
Return to Top
|Layers of Protection|
|Supervision is always your primary layer of protection, but as the study shows, 69 percent of the drowning incidents occurred when parental supervision failed and there were not other "backup layers" in use.|
|The goal, with instituted layers of protection, is to come as close to a "fail safe" system of preventing drowning incidents as possible. Meaning that if there is a momentary lapse of supervision for whatever reason, we have several backup systems in place.|
|All must fail before a drowning can take place. A door has been left
unlocked or open, the alarm system or device for the door has been turned
off, the pool safety barrier has been left open, your child does enter the
water, panics and does not attempt to utilize survival swim training, CPR is
administered too late to save the child.
Return to Top
|Some Startling Statistics|
According to the U.S. Lifesaving Association, drowning is the third
leading cause of unintentional death in the United States, and the second
leading cause of death for people ages 5 to 44. For children ages 1 to 2,
drowning is the leading cause of injury or death.
|An extensive study on pool safety by the Consumer Product Safety Commission
yielded some startling statistics. The investigation by the Commission was
directed at children under age five in Arizona, California, and Florida who
had drown in home swimming pools. The results might help you to better
understand why drowning is still the number one killer for three states and
stands at number two for the nation:
Here are some statistics from that report,
- In California,
Arizona and Florida, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in
and around the home for children under the age of 5.
- 75% of children
involved in swimming pool submersion or drowning accidents were between 1
and 3 years old.
- Boys between 1 and
3 years old are the most likely victims of fatal drowning accidents and
near-fatal submersions in residential swimming pools.
- Most of the victims
were being supervised by one or both parents when the swimming pool accident
- Nearly half of the
child victims were last seen in the house before the pool accident occurred.
In addition, 23 percent of the accident victims were last seen on the porch
or patio or in the yard.
- 65 percent of the
accidents occur in a pool owned by the victim's immediate family, and 33
percent of the accidents occurred in pools owned by relatives or friends.
- Fewer than 2
percent of the pool accidents were a result of children trespassing on
property where they didn't live or belong.
- Pool submersions
involving children happen quickly. A child can drown in the time it takes to
answer a phone call. 77 percent of the swimming pool victims had been
missing for five minutes or less when they were found in the pool drowned or
- Pool drownings are
silent deaths. It is unlikely that splashing or screaming will occur to
alert a parent or caregiver that a child is in trouble.
Return to Top
|Pool Safety Information Links|
|A copy of Safety Barrier Guidelines for Home Pools produced by the
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission can be obtained by writing to:
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Office of Information & Public Affairs
Washington, D.C., 20207
Or at their Web site: www.cpsc.gov
Safety Barrier Guidelines for Home Pools
Pool Fencing Can Prevent Child Drownings
CPSP Pool and Spa Safety Publications
American Academy of Pediatrics
Pool Safety for Children
Pool and Spa Emergency Procedures
Drowning Prevention Tips
Physicians Communications Network.
Search medical library using key word: "Drowning."
National Safety Commission - Water Safety Facts
Safety campaign "Look before you Leap."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Foundation for Aquatic Injury Prevention
List of National, State and local resources
National Swimming Pool Foundation
Injury Free Coalition For Kids
Drowning Prevention Foundation
Canadian Pool Safety Links:
Safety at the Pool and Playground-Links
Parent Program of Canada
Canadian Red Cross
Health Canada - Swimming Pool Safety
To view PDF documents using Adobe Acrobat software, a copy of Acrobat
Reader or Exchange is required. Documentation for installation and operating
requirements of Acrobat software is included with the software. Acrobat
Readers are available at no charge for virtually all operating systems.
Documents in PDF format can be viewed on any of those systems. After
downloading the software, be sure to close your browser (and any other
programs that are running) before installing it.