Be Especially Careful About the Risk of Drowning This Summer

Inflatable pools are hard to find these days. I know this because I spent many hours trying to find and buy one to use in my own backyard. We all seem to be trying to find ways to bring some summer fun into our own domain, while the usual places to visit – camps, playgrounds, and public pools – remain closed. Adding a pool to your yard is a great way to do this.

But experts warn that the spike in pool purchases, plus the increase in the time we spend at home, plus the fact that many parents combine work and childcare at the same time, could lead to an increase in child drowning deaths. The New York Times reports:

This year, while walks to the public pool, day camps and pool parties are still postponed, children locked up in their homes will be keen to swim in the water as the weather is warm. Experts fear that the parents are too stretched out to provide the necessary supervision, which will lead to an increase in the number of children drowning this summer. As of mid-May, Florida and Texas – the two states with the highest numbers of children drowning in pools and spas – are already seeing higher rates than last year.

If you have toddlers and you think you have nothing to worry about because you don’t have a real pool – just one of those little plastic or inflatable baby pools – sitting in your yard is still in danger. Young children can drown in less than two inches. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics , drowning is the leading cause of injury deaths in children ages 1 to 4, and in almost 70% of cases, it happens when children are not supposed to be in the pool.

Given that it is impossible to keep an eye on your children every second of every day, especially now, the most important thing the experts recommend if you have a pool is to completely isolate it from your home. Here are the AAP guidelines for pool fencing :

Four feet, four sides: Pool railing must be at least four feet high and completely surround the pool, separating it from the home and the rest of the yard.

Climb Protection: The fence should not have leg supports, hand supports or objects such as garden furniture or play equipment that a child could use to climb over the fence. Chain-link fences are very easy to climb and are not recommended as pool fences. (If used, make sure the hole size is 1¾ “or less.)

Slat Spacing : To prevent a small child from squeezing over the fence, make sure there are no more than four inches between vertical slats. It will also help keep small pets safe.

Latch height: the fence should have self-closing and self-closing gates that only open outward, away from the pool. The latch must be out of reach of children – at least 54 inches from the ground.

Gate locked, no toys: When the pool is not in use, make sure the gate is locked. Do not allow toys to enter the pool when not in use.

Since installing a fence around a small plastic or inflatable pool is not always possible, empty your own when not in use. You might also consider buying pool alarms, as well as door and window alarms, to be safer when we need to be more alert than ever.

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