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Pool Safety

Pools are a popular summer destination for people to beat the heat, but they can pose some hidden dangers. The number of residential pools has increased over recent years raising the risk for accidental drownings meaning homeowners and parents need be extra vigilant to protect kids who have access to the water. 

Parents should put down their phones, books, or other items that could take their attention away when children who are in or around the water. It only takes a few seconds for an accident to occur. The OSFM encourages parents to enroll their children in swimming lessons and have conversations with children about not entering a pool without permission.

According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), child drownings continue to be the leading cause of death among children ages 1 to 4 years old. Where location was known, 80% of reported fatal child drownings occurred in residential settings such as the victim’s home, or that of a family member, friend, or neighbor, with 91% of those drownings occurring in children younger than 5 years of age. Between 2018 and 2020, there was an average of 371 pool- or spa-related fatal drownings reported per year. On average, from 2020 through 2022, there were an estimated 6,300 pool- or spa-related, hospital emergency department treated, nonfatal drowning injuries each year. Seventy-six percent of these nonfatal drowning injuries involved children younger than 5 years of age.

Every year in the United States there are an estimated 4,000 fatal unintentional drownings—that is an average of 11 drowning deaths per day and 8,000 nonfatal drownings—that is an average of 22 nonfatal drownings per day according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). 

Statistics from the American Red Cross show a four-sided isolation fence (separating the pool area from the house and yard) reduces a child’s risk of drowning 83% compared to three-sided property-line fencing.

Pool chemicals, like chlorine, are needed to protect swimmers’ health. However, mishandling pool chemicals can cause serious injuries. Pool chemical injuries lead to about 4,500 U.S. emergency department visits each year, and over one-third of these preventable injuries are in children or teens.

Below are some simple steps to keep children safer in and around the water: 

  •  Install a four-sided fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate around all pools and spas. 
  • Check to make sure the gate is locked or closed when leaving the pool or spas.
  •  Keep the pool and deck clear of floats, balls, and toys after leaving the pool.
  • Always ensure children swim with an adult or buddy. 
  • Designate an adult Water Watcher to supervise children at all times around the water. Stay off your phone, put your book down, and pay attention to whoever is in or around the water!
  • Never leave a child unattended in or near water.
  • Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim.
  • Learn how to perform CPR on children and adults.
  • Teach children to stay away from pool drains, pipes, and other openings to avoid entrapments.
  • Ensure any pool or spa has drain covers that comply with federal safety standards. If you are unsure, ask your pool service provider about safer drain covers. 
  • If you are installing a new pool, hot tub, or spa, be sure the wiring is performed by an electrician experienced in the special safety requirement for these types of installations. 
  • Install door alarms and locks that are out of the reach of a child on all doors and windows with direct access to the pool or spa area
  • For above-ground pools, secure, lock or remove steps, ladders and anything that can be used for access (such as outdoor furniture and toys) whenever the pool is not being actively supervised by an adult.
  • Empty or flip over inflatable pools when you are finished using them for the day. 

Take the Pool Safety Pledge by visiting: