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Drowning prevention

Tips for pool owners

Decemebr 6, 2002

• Click here for a Pool Rules graphic with helpful tips of how to make your entire patio/pool area safe.

  • Never leave a child unattended in the water or pool area for any reason. Don't be distracted by doorbells, phone calls, chores or conversations. If you must leave the pool area, take the child with you, making sure the pool gate latches securely as it closes.

  • Always keep your eyes on the child or children. Designate a child watcher, whether you or someone else, when you attend a party or have friends or family over.

  • Talk with baby-sitters about pool safety, supervision and drowning prevention.

  • Post rules such a "No running," "No pushing," "No drinking" and "Never swim alone." Enforce these rules.

  • Don't rely on swimming lessons or "floaties" to protect your children in the water.

  • Don't assume that drowning or a drowning incident couldn't happen to you or your family.

  • Don't have a false sense of security just because you think your pool area and home are secure. Always watch your children, whether in the house or outside.

  • Attend a CPR class. Make sure your baby-sitter knows CPR.

  • For the nearest cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) class, contact your fire department, Red Cross or hospital.

  • Encourage your neighbors to follow pool safety guidelines, including keeping their back gates and doors locked, and thier pool gates securely closed and latched.

    Tips for fences

    fence specifications

  • Most cities require permanent fences around pools at homes where children six-years-old and younger are living. Pool fences also are suggested for any home where young children visit or spend any length of time.

  • When installing a fence, first check the guidelines of your municipality. Make sure the fence meets specifications as to spacing of slats or chain links, and any other requirements.

  • Phoenix requirements call for permanent five-foot, non-climbable fences that have self-closing and self-latching gates that open outward from the pool. All latches must be four feet above the ground or inaccessible from the outside by small children. Any opening in the fence must be less than four inches wide.

  • If a wall of the home is used as part of the pool enclosure, doors leading from the home into the pool area must also be self-closing and self-latching.

  • There are other particulars. Check with your municipality for its pool barrier ordinance.

  • Make sure an existing pool fence is in good shape and stable, not wobbly or falling over. Pool fences need to be maintained like cars and appliances to be effective.

  • If a fence is unsteady, have it stabilized be a contractor or handyman.

  • Keep gates closed securely at all times. Never prop them open.

  • If the gate has a lock, keep the keys well out of children's reach.

    Pool products

    Pool products, such as pool and gate alarms, may help prevent drownings, but they are merely tools, nothing else, Phoenix Fire division chief Bob Khan says. "These products should not be used in lieu of supervision," he said.

  • Check the products and their batteries continually to ensure they are working.

  • Pool motion alarms emit a piercing sound when someone falls into the pool, when the pressure of the water changes or when movement in the water is sensed.

  • Motion sensor alarms have an infrared beam that sounds the alarm when someone passes through the beam.

  • Gate alarms, similar to burglar alarms, sound an alert when someone enters the pool area. Make sure these are above the reach of a child.

  • Door and window alarms, similar to gate alarms, make a sound when the door or window is opened. Place them out of reach of children.

  • Pool covers are designed primarily to keep debris out of the pool, but they can also be a safety device. As an alternative to door alarms, they should be able to withstand the weight of two adults and one child and meet other specifications according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

  • Magnetic safety latches for doors are designed to prevent jarring, sticking and other machanical resistance to door closings.

  • Removable pool fences are not designed to take the place of permanent barriers but can be used by people who do not have children but want some barrier when children visit. There are a variety of types that are usually made of see-through mesh.

  • Reproduced with permission from:
    The Arizona Republic
    By By Sue Doerfler
    ©Copyright 2002 Arizona Republic

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