As summer weather approaches, your kids will be playing at neighborhood pools and taking swim lessons. If your children swim at a recreation center supervised by a lifeguard, or by you, that’s a good step toward ensuring their safety. Here are few other safety areas you should be aware of:
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) started a “Pool Safely” campaign in 2010 in an attempt to reduce child drowning and non-fatal submersions. One factor the CPSC stresses is that “adult supervision at all aquatic venues is a critical safety factor in preventing children from drowning.” You shouldn’t assume that children who know how to swim might not still be at risk for drowning without monitoring.
Watch for Pool and Spa Drain Entrapments
The CPSC also points out that in addition to regular drowning concerns, parents need to be aware of the dangers from drain entrapments in swimming pools and spas. A federal act promoting drain safety was passed to memorialize a girl who drowned after being trapped by the suction from a drain at the bottom of a spa.
The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act is designed to outlaw the type of faulty drain cover that caused her death. There are now entrapment protection standards for pool and spa drains. The dangerous entrapments are often caused when a person’s hair, limbs or clothing get entangled in a faulty or flat drain or grate.
In the tragic North Carolina case, Valerie Lakey was seriously injured after being trapped by the suction in a wading pool where the drain cover on the only suction outlet had been removed. In both of the Baker and Lakey cases, grown adults attempted and were unable to free the children from the power of the suction; while these types of accidents are more rare, their severity make them something parents might want to know about.
While it may be difficult to know if a pool you’re visiting has federally-compliant drain covers, there are steps you can take:
- Warn your children to stay away from drains, and why.
- Make sure your children know never to go into a pool with long hair loose – it should be tied up or kept under a swim cap.
- At a public or commercial pool, you can check to see if drains are covered.
- If you can, look to see where the cutoff switch is for a pool and spa pump, or ask the lifeguards if they know where they are.