Toddler Drowns in Backyard Pool
Have you ever seen a news headline like the one above? I don’t like seeing them, but they tend to be more common this time of year.
We are in the middle of summer and lots of children (and adults) are swimming in backyard pools.
The CDC says that drowning is the leading cause of death for children up to age 4, and the 2nd leading cause of death for children under 14.
Most drownings occur in home swimming pools.
Children under age 5 can drown in 2 inches of water.
A pool fence is one of the best protections against drowning, but other basic drowning prevention measures should be taken first:
- There should be a phone near the pool and toys, skates, etc. shouldn’t be allowed near the pool.
- Running and bike riding also shouldn’t be allowed, because a child can bump their head and fall into the pool.
- Children should be given swimming lessons at 3-4 years of age. Parents should also know how to swim.
- Parents and anyone who supervises kids should also receive CPR and First Aid training.
- Don’t let a floatation device such as a raft take the place of not being able to swim, because children can easily get separated from these devices.
- Life jackets should be given to children who don’t know how to swim.
- A long pole or plastic ring buoy attached to a rope should be kept near the pool, in case a child appears to be in trouble and possibly starting to drown – looks tired, is splashing, thrashing around, attempting to stay afloat.
- If a child appears to be in trouble you probably shouldn’t jump in the water yourself, unless you’re trained in water rescue. A panicking child may grab you by the neck. It’s best to try and turn them around so they are facing away from you.
- Pool alarms and Personal Immersion Alarms should be used.
A Pool Alarm is a device usually about 10 inches long, that’s mounted in the pool, and sounds when the water is disturbed by someone entering. It’s best to look for a brand that isn’t triggered by wind and gives a lot of false alarms.
A Personal Immersion Alarm is a sensor device that children wear like a wristwatch, and has a lockable band – so they don’t remove it! When the sensor gets wet, it sends a signal to a base station alarm that sounds and alerts a parent or guardian. Pet Immersion Alarms are also available.
How to Choose a Pool Fence
After the above precautions, a Pool Fence is a must to help prevent drownings. The Centers for Disease Control has stated that 70-80% of drownings can be prevented by four-sided pool fencing.
Prices for fences can vary from about $90 for a kit to $400 or more for a removable pool fence (the preferred kind). When you consider that you’ve spent thousands for your pool, you shouldn’t object to spending another $400 or more if it will save the life of your child.
A Pool Fence should be at least 4 feet high. It should have self-locking gates, with alarms on the gates.
The fence should go all the way around the pool (a four-sided fence) and the fence openings should be no more than 4 inches wide.
The fence should have a lockable gate, and should also be non-climbable – a fence with no cross bars, so there’s nothing for children to hold on to and climb over.
The best type of Pool Fence to get is a removable fence that is constructed of a see-through polyester mesh material. It’s usually mounted to plastic or aluminum sleeves that can be installed and “locked” into the pool deck surface, and the sleeves mount flush against the deck to prevent a child from crawling under the fence.
Don’t leave items such as chairs, tables or benches near the outside of the fence, that children could use to climb over.
Even if you have a screen-in porch, you should still have a pool fence.
I suggest you also add a Pool Gate Alarm to your fence. These are inexpensive and add an extra layer of protection.
The model shown at the left and here sounds an alarm in 7 seconds if a child opens the gate, even if they close the gate.
The alarm is always on and always automatically resets.
It has a feature that won’t allow someone to accidentally leave your gate open for children to wander through. It also has a low battery indicator and will audibly alert you when the battery is getting low.