Q. Our family bought a house with a pool, and we are worried about the drowning risk for our 2-year-old and 4-year-old sons. What are the guidelines about pool safety?
In the United States, drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional death in children ages 1 to 19. Last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics released updated recommendations on drowning prevention:
- A pool should be surrounded by a four-sided fence that is at least 48 inches tall and isolates the pool from the house and yard. The gate on the fence should be self-closing and self-latching.
- Special drain covers or filter-pump equipment should be installed in pool and spa drains to prevent body entrapment and hair entanglement.
- Adult supervision should be “close, constant and capable.” Parents and caregivers should never leave children who are bathing or near water alone or in the care of another child. Infant bath seats can tip over and should be used only in conjunction with adult supervision.
- Parents also should be aware of less obvious drowning dangers, such as toilets, large pails or buckets.
- Parents and caregivers should receive CPR training.
- Children should learn to swim. The best age to start swim lessons may vary for each child, based on his or her developmental level. Generally speaking, most children are ready for swim lessons by age 4. Previously, the AAP advised against swim lessons for children ages 1 to 3 for fear they would instill a false sense of security. But newer evidence shows that formal swimming instruction for children ages 1 to 4 may reduce the likelihood of drowning.
- Teenagers must be counseled on the risk of drowning when alcohol is involved.
Find the full AAP report at www.aap.org ; learn more about state safety requirements for pools in the N.C. Residential Building Code.