As more kids enjoy the warm weather with a dip in the pool, it's important for parents to be on guard against one of the leading causes of accidental death in children: drowning. Fortunately, there are a number of ways parents can keep their kids safe-and new legislation may help. The legislation will encourage states to require protection-such as fencing and devices that reduce drain suction-around pools and hot tubs.
Every year there are 2,400 pool-related drownings from various causes among kids aged 1 to 14. Many parents do not realize that one of the most alarming dangers to children in pools and hot tubs is drain entrapment, which occurs when a child's body or hair gets attached to an underwater drain in a pool or hot tub.
Drowning is the biggest accidental-injury related cause of death among children 1 to 4 in the U.S. It is the second biggest killer of children ages 1 to 14. In 2002 alone, 838 children died as a result of accidental drowning-enough children to fill a small primary school.
Safe Kids Worldwide, with help from Johnson & Johnson, works to teach families how to prevent drain entrapment. They offer these tips:
• Warn children about the dangers of drain entrapment and teach them to stay away from the drain.
• Install equipment to prevent entrapment if you own a pool or hot tub. Protective measures include anti-entrapment drain covers, multiple drains in new construction and a device to automatically release the suction and shut down the pump, should entrapment occur.
• Actively supervise children around water and have a phone nearby to call for help in an emergency.
• Ensure your pool has four-sided fencing. It is estimated that proper installation and use of four-sided fencing could prevent 50 to 90 percent of all childhood residential swimming pool drownings or near drownings. Also use a self-closing, self-latching gate to prevent a child from wandering into the pool area unsupervised. Hot tubs should be covered and locked when not in use.
• Install a door alarm, a window alarm or both to alert you if a child wanders into the pool area unsupervised.