Movies portray drowning as loud, attention-grabbing incidents, with victims splashing and calling for help until a bystander comes to the rescue. In reality, drowning is often a silent killer that happens too quickly and quietly for anyone to intervene.
For those lucky enough to survive a close call, severe injuries including brain damage, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functions can have life-changing consequences.
Young children are at greatest risk in home swimming pools, where the majority of drownings occur for those between the ages of 1 and 4. Parents and pool owners can follow these tips to keep kids safe during summer swims.
3 ways to keep kids safe in home swimming pools
1. Teach children correct swimming technique. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children can begin formal swimming lessons after their fourth birthday. Before your child reaches that age, joint parent and toddler classes can be a great way to safely teach little ones to enjoy the water. Swimming lessons are one of the easiest ways to reduce your child’s risk factors for drowning, but even strong swimmers should always be supervised by an adult.
2. Properly secure your pool area. Home swimming pools should be isolated from the rest of the property by a four-sided fence or barrier. The enclosure should be at least four feet tall and equipped with child-proof latches, automatic locks, and alarms to notify owners if someone unexpectedly enters the area. Keep the deck clear of toys and floats to reduce temptations.
3. Never let kids swim unattended. When groups of adults are hanging around the pool, it’s easy to assume someone else is keeping an eye on swimming children. Always designate an adult “lifeguard” to be on the lookout and forbid kids of any age from going near the water without an adult present. Pool owners and parents should learn CPR and other life-saving emergency techniques.
While the guidelines above can help reduce the risks of drowning in home swimming pools, owners should also be sure their property is in compliance with all city, county, and state requirements. Umbrella insurance added to a home policy can offer extra protection for any injuries that occur in your pool.