Welcome to the safety archive! Using common sense, caution and standard practices can keep chemical applicators and pool users safe from harm. I wish to acknowledge the National Spa & Pool Institute for their work in pool and spa safety and their contributions to this page. Visit the Poolcenter.com Libraryfor links to other safety sites we recommend. Safety around a swimming pool is an issue addressed by pool & spa professionals, their trade associations, and your local government in cooperation with consumer focus groups. Consumer Product Safety Commission has produced a page on pool safety and safety products. Pools and spas are not considered dangerous, yet the lack of proper precaution or available safety products can create hazardous conditions or liability concerns for the pool owner. Drowning can occur in a split second to people of all ages and swimming ability. Spinal injuries continue to happen from improper diving, to slip and fall cases that could end up in court, to the use of hazardous materials requiring a visit to the emergency room. The information below is divided into 2 categories: 1 - Drowning & Accident Prevention and 2 - Chemical Use and Storage Safety.
NSPI statistics show that drowning and swimming accidents are best prevented by adult supervision, public awareness programs including water safety training for young children, and not drinking alcohol while swimming, diving or soaking. Statistically, most accidents involving drowning or severe injury occur to children under 5 years of age who are unsupervised, cannot swim, and fall into a pool or pool cover with water on top. Toddlers at the age of 2 or 3 are most likely to wander off from a parent's supervision. Barriers such as fences or back doors are often left unlocked. Drowning is NOT accompanied by loud noise or splashing sounds. DROWNING IS SILENT! To prevent child-drowning, there is NO substitute for parental supervision. Children under the age of three and children who cannot swim must wear a life jacket or PFD (Personal Flotation Device) any time they are around a swimming pool or other body of water.
The second largest number of accidental injuries occur to teenagers, primarily males. Often the victim has been drinking alcohol and has dove into the pool in an area too shallow for diving, or from a location not intended for diving (like the roof of the house). Many of those who "drink and dive" end up in a wheelchair, if they're lucky. Alcohol and spas are also a potentially lethal combination; the hot water and the alcohol combine to cause individuals to fall asleep and drown in only three feet of water. Other hazards exist, like standing water on top of solid pool covers. Small children and animals can drown in as little as a few inches of water. Cover pumps are available and must be used, or switch to a mesh type safety cover. Solar blankets or solid covers must be completely removed before entering the water. Entrapment by the suction of a single main drain on long hair or small arms and legs has been the cause of drowning in the past. New standards require double main drains or a safety switch to prevent this. If someone has had a near drowning experience they must be taken to the doctor as soon as possible, even if they seem like they are fine. Secondary drownings, where a fluid is produced in the lungs up to 72 hours after initial immersion in water, are a very real risk that needs to be taken seriously.
In some areas of the nation's sunbelt, drowning has been the leading cause of accidental death in the home of children under 5 years old. The information below can help parents and caregivers provide young children with the protection they deserve. Each year, nationwide, more than 300 children under 5 years old drown in residential swimming pools, usually a pool owned by their family. In addition, more than 2,000 children in that age group are treated in hospital emergency rooms for submersion injures. Medical costs for submersion victims during the initial hospitalization alone can be quite high. Costs can range from an estimated $2,000 for a victim who recovers fully to $80,000 for a victim with severe brain damage. Some severely brain damaged victims have initial hospital stays in excess of 120 days and expenses in excess of $150,000. Many communities have enacted safety regulations governing residential swimming pools -- in-ground and above-ground. It's up to parents to comply with these regulations. Apart from these laws, parents who own pools can take their own precautions to reduce the chances of their youngsters accessing the family pool or spa without adult supervision.
Facts & Figures
The following are just a few facts uncovered by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in a comprehensive study of drowning and submersion incidents involving children under 5 years old in Arizona, California, and Florida.
- Each day in the United States, nine people drown. For each death caused by drowning, there are 1-4 nonfatal submersion accidents serious enough for the victim to be hospitalized. Among children ages 1 to 4 years, most drownings occur in residential swimming pools. Portable pools make up 11% of all pool drownings for children under age 5.
- Seventy-five percent of the submersion victims studied by CPSC were between 1 and 3 years old; 65 percent of this group were boys. Toddlers, in particular, often do something unexpected because their capabilities change daily.
- Approximately 54 percent of the estimated injuries between 2007 and 2009, involving children younger than 15, occurred at a home pool or spa. Children between the ages of 12 and 35 months represented 47 percent of estimated injuries between 2007 and 2009. Roughly two-thirds of submersion injuries involve boys.
- At the time of the incidents, most victims were being supervised by one or both parents. Forty-six percent of the victims were last seen in the house; 23 percent were last seen in the yard or on the porch or patio; and 31 percent were in or around the pool before the accident. In all, 69 percent of the children were not expected to be at or in the pool, yet they were found in the water.
- Submersion incidents involving children usually happen in familiar surroundings. Sixty-five percent of the incidents happened in a pool owned by the child's family and 33 percent of the incidents happened in a pool owned by friends or relatives.
- Pool submersions involving children happen quickly. A child can drown in the time it takes to answer a phone. Seventy-seven percent of the victims had been missing from sight for 5 minutes or less.
- Survival depends on rescuing the child quickly and restarting the breathing process, even while the child is still in the water. Seconds count in preventing death or brain damage.
- Participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% among children ages 1-4.
- Child drowning is a silent death. There's no splashing to alert anyone that the child is in trouble.
More NSPI (National Spa & Pool Institute) Drowning Prevention Tips
- There is NO substitute for adequate supervision. The "buddy system" of two children, is no substitute. Even people that can swim, very well, can drown when they bump their head, become entrapped, or have medical emergencies like seizures or black outs. DON'T LET THEM OUT OF YOUR SIGHT!
- Pools and spas are attractive to children; what the court calls an "attractive nuisance". There must be a permanent barrier to entry. Local ordinances will specify a 3-sided or a 4-sided, non-climbable fence with self-closing, self-latching mechanisms on the gate. The gate should be locked when the pool is not in use. Do not place chairs or tables near a fence which would allow a child to climb over. Portable, above ground spas should have a hard top that locks on, preventing its use.
- In addition to a barrier around the pool, NSPI promotes an idea called Layers
of Protection, and has produced a pamphlet under the same name. This is the combination of many safety features working together to form several "layers" of safety protection around a swimming pool or spa. A simple fence just won't do to protect the pool when it is not under supervision. Door
exit alarms, infrared detectors or security cameras. Pool
alarms, child alarms, or pool pool
safety covers will all help to prevent accidents
- Ensure that the pool is in clear view from the house, and not obstructed by plants, canopies, solid fences, or darkness. This is not so that you can watch your swimmers from the house; rather to ensure that the pool is not in use when it is not supposed to be. (continued........)