Clocks have been moved ahead, which means longer daylight hours and the weather is gearing up to provide the higher temperatures known to draw people from all over the world to our great state. Spring is near and it’s a clear signal that pool season has arrived.
Parents and caregivers, it is imperative you take all the safety measures possible to protect children from the dangers that lurk in and around the pool or any body of water for that matter. It’s time to get an early jump on reviewing – and improving, if needed – water safety habits. Florida is among the top states in the nation in relation to drowning deaths for children under 5 years old. About 1,000 children drown each year in the United States. Between 2011 and 2013, 200 children under the age of 5 died as a result of accidental drowning in Florida. Of those, two were from Pasco County. In all, 83 Pasco County residents – children and adults – have died from drowning from 2004-2013.
Florida Statute Chapter 515, the Residential Pool Safety Act, requires only one of four specified safety barriers for all swimming pools built after 2002. As a result, many backyard pools are readily – and dangerously – accessible to young children.
Florida Safe Pools is a water safety campaign established by Florida Suncoast Safe Kids Coalition led by All Children’s Hospital. Since most young children gain access to the pool when least expected, Florida Safe Pools promotes the use of multiple “layers of protection,” which include barriers and alarms, to help parents and guardians. For more information, please visit their website at www.flsafepools.com.
The 1st layer of protection starts with you:
- Pool safety starts with the caregiver. Persistent supervision will help keep your little ones from accessing the pool area.
- Limit distractions to yourself so you remain a constant vigil on children.
The 2nd layer starts inside the home:
- Door alarms should be on all exterior doors leading to a pool area
- Access to exterior doors should be limited to adults
- Childproof door locks should be in place
- Have a clear view of the pool from inside the house
The 3rd layer starts outside the home:
- The backyard should be fenced
- A safety fence should surround the pool
- Self-closing gates should be included on the pool fence
- Alarms should be placed on gates
- Keep furniture away from the fence, since little ones love to climb!
- Hot tubs should have a locking cover
The 4th layer begins in the pool area:
- Keep toys & floating objects out of the pool, since these can entice children
- Remove trip hazards away from the pool’s edge
- Keep water levels 3-4 inches from the top
- Wave alarms can be placed in the pool
- Pool covers can be used when pool is not in use
For more information on pool and water safety, please visit the following links on your computer:
Pool Safely: http://www.poolsafely.gov/parents-families/
Safe Kids: http://www.safekids.org/watersafety