Pool Safety for Children

Written By Mark Atlee

The weather is getting warmer and pools will soon be opening throughout the County.  While pools are fun for family and children, they pose a real danger, especially to children under the age of 5.  Most people are aware of the dangers of drowning in small children and the importance of pool safety, but in reality, it happens very quickly and often is silent.

The Danger of Drowning

Most do not know that drowning is the second leading cause of death among young children in the United States, according to Safe Kids Worldwide and the leading cause of unintentional death in children ages 1-4.  The CDC has reported that accidental drowning with account for nearly 800-900 deaths each year.  The vast majority of those deaths occur in home swimming pools.  With nearly half of those deaths occurring within 25 yards of a parent or adult.

Again, drowning is a silent killer, it does not often look like we see in the movies and on TV.  It also does not just happen in the deep-end of the pool, drowning of a young child can happen in the shallow end, baby pool, or even an unattended bucket of water where an infant can fall in head first and be unable to get themselves out.  Whenever a young child is around water, a parent or supervising adult must be aware, watching, and close by to act in case of an emergency.  Some signs to look out for that a drowning might occur, or be imminent.

Signs of Drowning

  • Head low in the water, mouth at water level
  • Head tilted back with mouth open
  • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
  • Eyes closed
  • Hair over forehead or eyes
  • Not using legs – Vertical
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
  • Trying to roll over on the back
  • Appear to be climbing an invisible ladder.

Remember children when playing in pools and water, make noise, splashing and shouting, if it is silent there is cause for concern. 

Pool Safety Tips

  • Never leave a child alone near water
  • Designate an adult to be on constant watch, meaning don’t go inside and leave children unattended or be just looking at a cellphone, and switch every 15 minutes
  • Teach children how to swim at a young age
  • Teach children to stay away from drains
  • Ensure that all pools and spas, both at home and public pools, have compliant drain covers
  • Install proper barriers or alarms around the pool
  • Don’t leave pool toys or floatation devices in or around the pool – Children may attempt to retrieve or throw them  and fall into the pool
  • If child can’t swim, have proper floatation devices, but these are not a substitute for attentive watching

Pools provide a wonderful and fun activity for children throughout the summer.  It is just important for parents and supervising adults to be vigilant in monitoring children in the water and take proper precautions to ensure that water activities are fun and safe.