Precautions to prevent drownings

Pool owners, especially those with young children and grandchildren, should always keep in mind the hazards a pool can pose. A young child can drown quickly and silently, often without any splashing or screaming, in the time it takes to answer the telephone.

More than 375 children under five-years-old drown in pools each year nationwide -- most in residential pools. Physical barriers designed to limit access to pools provide an important layer of security. Effective barriers include fences or walls and power safety covers over pools. Fences and walls should be at least four feet high and installed completely around the pool. Fence gates should be self-closing and self-latching. The latch should be out of a small child's reach.

If your house forms one side of the barrier for the pool, then doors leading from the house to the pool should be protected with alarms that produce an audible sound when a door is unexpectedly opened. A power safety cover, a motor powered barrier that can be placed over the water area, can be used as an alternative to door alarms. For above ground pools, steps and ladders to the pool should be secured and locked or removed when the pool is not in use.

Flotation devices are never to be used as a substitute for supervision and knowing how to swim doesn't make a child drownproof. Watch children closely while they are in the pool. If a child is missing, always look in the pool first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.

Keep rescue equipment by the pool and be sure a phone is near the pool with emergency numbers posted.

Consumer Product Safety Commission press release http://www.cpsc.gov

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