Swimming Pool Rules
Directorate of Assessments and Prevention
U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center
Fort Rucker, Alabama
Spring is here, and with it comes swimming pool activities. Many of us have and enjoy pools at home, of both the in-ground and above-ground varieties. As such, it’s the perfect time of year to consider home swimming pool safety measures, especially for those who have children around.
Since my children are grown and no longer live at home, I usually don’t think much about home pool safety. However, last fall my daughter and her husband were considering a house purchase in Arizona. While they were looking around the kitchen of one home, my 5-year-old grandson became very curious about the swimming pool in the backyard. He slipped past the view of Mom and Dad, making his way outside to the big prize — the pool. He’d had swimming lessons and was still learning, but managed to fall in and began to panic.
Fortunately, my son-in-law saw him fall and immediately went to the rescue. No harm, no foul. But it really got me thinking about the importance of swimming pool safety at my own house. It was time for me to familiarize myself with current safety information and make adjustments to the way we care for folks who visit our pool.
Why is home swimming pool safety important? Not including boating incidents, an average of 10 people drown every day in the United States, according to the National Safety Council. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that drowning is the No. 1 cause of death for children ages 1-4, with more than 50 percent of fatalities in this demographic drowning in home swimming pools. That sounds pretty significant when you consider how many of us have kids and grandkids with access to a swimming pool at home. Let’s take a look at some basic home swimming pool safety tips:
- Talk to your children about swimming pool safety. Ensure all family members are aware of the dangers associated with water, just as you’d ensure they are all aware of the dangers associated with fire. Talk with everyone about your pool safety policy and practices.
- Make sure everyone in the family knows how to swim. Contact the local YMCA or Red Cross to enroll family members in swimming classes if needed. It’s never too early — or too late — to learn to swim.
- Ensure a competent adult is always watching the pool when in use. This person should know how to swim and be free of distractions, including their cellphone.
- Have your swimming pool inspected and serviced at the start of the season. Ensure your service provider checks for loose screws or other objects a swimsuit or hair could get snagged on, potentially trapping a swimmer.
- Have an emergency action plan in place, including what to do or who to call in an emergency. Ensure you and other adults know what emergency steps to take in a drowning event, including adult and child CPR.
- Don’t use commercial water flotation devices or toys unless labeled “Coast Guard approved.”
- Never allow unaccompanied children access to your pool. Countermeasures include security such as pool-area fencing and top-latched doors in the house.
- Ensure your pool is equipped with anti-entrapment drain covers and, if possible, keep the pool covered when not in use.
- Never allow running or horseplay around the pool. Decks can become very slippery and dangerous if swimmers do not exercise care when moving around the pool.
- Keep glass objects out of the pool area. Broken glass can cause significant injury when stepped on with bare feet.
Be vigilant with your home swimming pool safety. If you see something that isn’t right, make an on-the-spot correction. Enjoy your family, friends and swimming activities the safe way this summer!
For additional swimming safety resources, visit the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center at https://safety.army.mil/OFF-DUTY/Home-and-Family, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission at https://www.poolsafely.gov/, National Safety Council at https://www.nsc.org/community-safety/safety-topics/seasonal-safety/drowning and American Red Cross at https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/swimming.