According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, at least 382 children younger than age 15 drown each year in pools or spas. Of those, 290 (76 percent) are younger than age five. These drownings represent only those reported to CPSC, so the numbers are minimums.
More significantly, for children younger than age five, over 86 percent of the drownings occur in residential settings.
Drownings at home account for 54 percent; another 32 percent occur at the homes of family, friends and neighbors.
Pools account for 95 percent of the drownings, broken down at 56 percent in ground pools, 22 percent above ground pools, 8 percent portable pools and 9 percent undisclosed type. Spas accounted for 5 percent of the drownings.
Clearly, barriers around residential pools are extremely important to preventing drownings of young children. When children are able to access an unsupervised pool, they are at great risk of drowning. While installing barriers around permanent pools is the primary objective, even portable pools and spas can pose a drowning risk to young children. Barriers should be considered for those as well.
According to the CPSC, properly protecting children involves putting a fence or other effective barrier completely around a pool and installing self-closing gates with self-latching devices. If an outside pool where the entire home serves as one side of the barrier, door alarms should be installed on all doors leading to the pool area. As with gates, doors should have self-closing and self-latching devices or locks that are beyond the reach of children. Pet doors are an issue and may require other barriers to prevent children from accessing the pool. Pool covers add another layer of protection, but are not considered adequate by themselves. Covers must be well maintained and the control devices not in reach of children.
For additional resources contact the Whitley County Cooperative Extension Service at 549-1430; email DL_CES_WHITLEY@EMAIL.UKY.EDU; or visit the office currently located in Cumberland Regional Mall, 965 S. Highway 25W, Williamsburg.
An effective barrier prevents a child from going over, under or through it. The CPSC provides a downloadable 17-page booklet with illustrated guidelines for effective barriers, including gates and doors, as listed below.