Fire Officials Urge Residents to Follow Pool Safety Guidelines
With the onset of warm weather and summer vacation time, Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services (GCFES) officials remind residents to take appropriate steps to prevent pool-related injury and death.
According to a GCFES press release, drowning is a leading, but preventable, cause of death and injury for children and adults in the United States. A total of 11 drowning deaths were reported in Gwinnett County between 2008 and 2010.
GCFES public information officer Lt. Eric Eberly reminds residents to follow the following safety tips:
- If you own a pool or spa, make sure that drains and vents include anti-entrapment covers, meaning that they will not entangle the hair or body of an adult or child.
- Place an alarm mechanism on the pool gate to indicate whenever someone enters or exits the pool area and use a float-line to separate the deep and shallow ends of the pool.
- Parents should consider teaching children to swim at a young age.
- Access to swimming pools or other bodies of water should be limited by barriers such as locked doors, fences or gates. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), fences should stand at least four-feet high (or taller) and should not have foot or handrails for kids to climb on. The slats of the fence should no more than 4-inches apart. If the fence is chain link, no opening should be larger than 1-3/4 inches. The gate should open out from the pool and be self-closing and self-latching. The latch should be out of the reach of children. The release mechanism for the pool gate should be at least 3-inches below the top of the gate on the side facing the pool.
- Never allow children to enter the pool or spa area without supervision. Children in the water should be accompanied by a responsible adult or caregiver. Obey all instructions provided by the Lifeguard or the posted Pool Rules.
- Designate an adult “Water Watcher” (or multiple adults) to supervise children in or near the pool. This is also important during large gatherings. If the pool employs a lifeguard, remember that your child is YOUR responsibility, not the lifeguards. Never fall asleep while sunbathing or allow distractions such as books, magazines, and friendly conversation to take your attention off your child in the water. A child should always be accompanied by a responsible adult while in or near the water
- Keep wheeled toys, such as tricycles and bikes away from the pool deck or spa edge.
- Never allow anyone, regardless of their age, to swim alone. Always swim with a buddy in a supervised area.
- Provide rescue equipment around the pool in an easy to access location. A rescue pole or life preserver is a must for anyone in trouble in the water. Remember to “reach or throw, don’t go” when helping a distressed swimmer.
- Post emergency numbers by the telephone and call for help at the onset of the emergency. Learn CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation), so you can help a person in medical distress.
- Post and enforce pool rules such as no running, pushing, or horseplay in or near the swimming pool. “Look before you leap” and “no diving in the shallow end” are important rules to remember when swimming.
- Use a manual or automatic pool cover whenever the pool is not in use.
- Monitor the weather before going out to swim. Never swim if there is thunder or lightning in the area. Go indoors to safety during a thunderstorm.
- Have a clear view of the swimming pool from inside the house, in case a child slips outside and you fail to notice. If a child is missing or unaccounted for, be sure to check the swimming pool, bathtub or spa first.
- Adults should avoid the use of alcohol during water related activities. Never go swimming or boating on the lake or river while intoxicated.
- If spending time on the lake or river, remember to wear a U.S. Coast Guard or CPSC approved lifejacket. Always obey the rules for safe boating. River-goers, whether fishing from the banks or boating, should frequently check the water release schedule and monitor changing weather conditions before and during river activities.
Additional information on pool safety and preventing water related emergencies is available at the CPSC Pool Safely website at www.poolsafely.gov.
You may also contact GCFES public information officer Lt. Eric Eberly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 678-518-4926 to schedule a water safety program in your community.