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Child Safety: Drowning Prevention in Pools and Hot Tubs - Topic Overview

Swimming pools

Most childhood drownings occur in swimming pools. When visiting public or private pools, make sure that your children are supervised closely and that they are familiar with pool safety rules.

If you have a pool at your home, use these tips to help prevent drowning tragedies:1

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Pool safety

  • All pool owners should be certified in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).
  • If a child is missing, look immediately in the pool. Every second counts in drowning accidents.
  • Never let your child swim without an adult present.
  • Always have your child wear a life jacket when swimming or boating.
  • Inflatable toys or mattresses should not be used when young children are swimming in water above the waist.
  • Remove toys from the pool when they are not in use. Young children attracted to the toys can fall in when reaching for them.
  • Any doors leading from the house to the pool should be fitted with an alarm that sounds anytime the door is opened unexpectedly.

Pool equipment

  • Install a power safety cover for when the pool isn't in use. This is a motor-powered device that acts as a barrier over the water.
  • Keep rescue equipment by the pool. This includes a portable phone with emergency numbers, a life preserver, and a shepherd's hook.
  • Above-ground pools that aren't in use should be inaccessible. Secure steps and ladders to prevent an unsupervised child from climbing into the pool.
  • Install underwater pool alarms that can be heard inside the house and in nearby areas. Alarms that can be used with pool covers are recommended.
  • Install fences and walls around the entire pool. Fences should be at least 4 ft (1.2 m) high, with self-closing and self-latching gates. Latches should be out of a young child's reach.

Hot tubs and spas

Hot tubs and spas often are an overlooked drowning danger for children. Drowning can result from unintentional falls into the water, from hair that becomes tangled in drains or jets, or from body parts becoming trapped.

Consider keeping hot tubs and spas off-limits to young children. Talk to your doctor before allowing children younger than age 5 to use them.

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