Since the passing of The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (P&SS Act) in December 2007, the Consumer Protection Safety Commission (CPSC) and other agencies have been conducting ongoing public education programs to heighten awareness regarding pool and spa safety. Virginia Graeme Baker, the 7-year old granddaughter of former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, drowned in a hot tub after coming too close to a powerful suction drain fitted with an improperly operating drain cover. She had been an avid swimmer since the age of three and was on her community swim team but this didn’t help save her. Suction from the drain was so strong that even her mother, after being alerted to the emergency, was unable to free her daughter from the entrapment that caused the drowning death.

The Campaign to “Pool Safely”

Award-winning Pool Safely PSAs (public service announcements) aired on television and radio are a major part of the CPSC’s campaign for prevention of the 390 (on average) pool and spa drownings that occur each year to children 14 years of age and younger. More than 5,000 children are also treated in emergency rooms nationwide as a result of pool- and spa-related injuries. A comprehensive outline of the entire campaign can be found here.
Statistics show that the majority of pool drownings occur in residential backyards, and those most at risk include children under the age of five. A call to action incorporated into the pool safely program is the buzz-phrase, “Swim Lessons and Pool Fences for All.” While these two safety steps are having great impact on those that embrace them, there are several more that, when incorporated, are having definite, positive effects in the prevention of water-related injuries and deaths.

Instructors teach children how to swim

Instructors teach children how to swim (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Five Pool Safety Guidelines You Need to Know

Adopting specific water-safety steps will provide the greatest assurance that you are doing everything you can in preventing pool and spa mishaps. Three basic areas are covered:

  • Observation and continued alertness of the pool area
  • Learning and practicing water-safety skills
  • Having and maintaining the proper equipment

The following specific pool safety guidelines, when adopted by prudent parents and pool/spa owners, will undoubtedly help in reducing the numbers of those falling victim pool-related injuries and fatalities:

  1. Always keep a watchful eye on your kids, never leaving them unattended while in the pool area. Discuss the importance of safety procedures with your family and any others using your pool facilities.
  2. Learn how to swim, teach your children to swim and also learn how to perform CPR and other life-saving techniques on both adults and children. Keep a phone close at hand at all times. If a child turns up missing, check the pool/spa first.
  3. Install a strong fence, at least four feet in height, around the entire pool/spa area. Install gates that are self-closing and that latch automatically. Alarms on gates and doors leading to the pool area should also be installed.
  4. Make sure that pools and spas have government-compliant, properly functioning drain covers and install working pool and spa covers.
  5. Maintain easily accessible pool life-saving equipment such as floatation rings on a rope and special poles designed for reaching into every area of the pool water.

An Ounce of Prevention

The CPSC national education program, “Pool Safely,” which is in response to the federally mandated requirement for a public education program as part of the P&SS Act, is making a big difference in raising awareness nationwide. The secret of its success, however, is directly tied to definitive action being taken by those affected. This includes pool/spa owners and those who allow their children to use public or private swimming facilities.
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Nicole is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about home maintenance and landscaping. She recommends Perth’s Fence Makers as a great fencing company.
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