Each day in the United States, nine people drown. Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental injury-related death among children ages 1 to 14 and the leading cause of accidental injury-related death among children ages 1 to 4. Roughly 5,000 children 14 and under go to the hospital because of accidental drowning-related incidents each year; 15% die and about 20% suffer from permanent neurological disability. The most common place for a 1-4-year old child to drown is in a home swimming pool and in nearly 9 out of 10 child-drowning deaths, a parent or caregiver claimed to be watching the child.
While these statistics can be alarming there are security measures you can take that will greatly decrease your chances of ever dealing with a drowning tragedy. Teaching children how to swim, float and other basic life-saving skills. Parents should also consider training in CPR, first aid and emergency response. Other key safety provisions you should have in place include a fence, cover, and VGB-compliant drain covers. Take a look at what you can do to make your pool both fun and safe for your family.
Fence Your Pool Or Spa
All pools and spas should have a fence to prevent young children from gaining access. Guidelines recommend a barrier of at least 48 to 54 inches above grade, measured on the side facing away from the swimming pool. A successful barrier will prevent children from getting over, under, or through so it is important not to exceed openings of 1-3/4 inches as well as to eliminate handholds and footholds as well as have no indentations or protrusions other than normal construction tolerances.
Gates should be self-closing and self-latching with the release mechanism placed far out of reach of young children. Even portable, above ground pools can be deadly and present a real danger to young children. Some type of barrier preventing access should be in place for them as well.
If your home opens directly to the pool or spa, consider installing an alarm on the door. A Consumer Product Safety Commission study showed that 46 percent of the children who became victims of pool accidents were last seen in the house just before they were found.
All doors with access to a swimming pool should be equipped with a distinct and very loud alarm which sounds when the door and/or screen are opened. Alarms are usually equipped with a switch that allows adults to temporarily deactivate the alarm.
There are also subsurface water disturbance alarms that alert you to any movement it detects in the water. Surface disturbance alarms are also available for children to wear on their wrists. When exposed to any water, they will signal an alarm.
Cover Your Pool Or Spa
Not only do covers help your pool or spa retain heat, slow down evaporation and keep out debris, they can also be installed to serve as security barriers. There are several kinds of pool covers available in net or mesh or solid form. Be sure that the cover is attached and installed properly and confirm that the cover is designed for use as a safety barrier. Tarps and solar covers, for example, are not strong enough to provide any safety against falling through and into the water.
Install P&SS Compliant Drain Covers
The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act (P&SS Act) takes its name from Virginia Graeme Baker, a young girl who drowned after she was trapped under water by the powerful suction from a hot tub drain. Individuals can be caught by a limb, jewelry, hair, hair accessory, or swimsuit. One of the most important factors in keeping children and adults safe from similar incidents is to install anti-entrapment drain covers that are compliant with the P&SS Act.
Properly Store And Use Pool And Spa Chemicals
Pool and spa chemicals can cause burns and may present health hazards if inhaled. Keep all pool chemicals stored in a locked area out of the reach of children and pets. Use them with caution and be familiar with emergency procedures so you can act quickly if needed. Never store oxidizers and acid near each other. Oxidizers will release chlorine gas if they come in contact with acids. Also, do not store liquids above powders or solids.
Inspect Your Pool
Each year you should inspect your pool for any structural wear and tear as well as make sure that your equipment (pump, heater, filter, drains) is functioning properly. If you notice anything loose, broken or missing, address the problem right away. In addition to the problems being potential safety issues, the longer you wait the more it may cost to repair.
As part of every home inspection, Inspector Protector checks the fencing and gates around pools. We can also set up a certified pool inspection to ensure that your pool or spa is safe and structurally sound with a properly functioning system.
For more information on home or pool inspections, give us a call at 973.255.0369 or visit us online at www.njhomeinspector4u.com.
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