Pool & Spa Hazards for Children

Every home pool, spa, or hot tub needs "house rules" that cover supervision, behavior, dangers, maintenance, use of electrical appliances, and handling of chemicals. These house rules -- for children and adults alike -- must be established immediately, written in simple language, and posted where they are easy to see.

The home owner has the bottom-line responsibility for safety while entertaining. Use good judgment to help protect yourself, your family, and your guests.

Here are some simple precautions to ensure that your good times are safe times.

Pool Safety for Children

  • Always actively supervise children. Never leave a child out of eye contact -- not even for a second. Never assume a child is water-safe, regardless of swimming lessons or experience. Infants and toddlers need to be within an arm's reach away,
  • Always swim with a buddy. Children should understand that they are never allowed to swim alone.
  • Talk to children about dangers. Make sure children get swimming and water safety lessons. Never allow a child to play in a way that would permit hair to come near a drain cover. They should not stick fingers, toes, or body parts into drains. They should not play the "hold your breath underwater" game.
  • Require good behavior from kids. This means:
    • No playful screaming for help (false alarms) that might mask a real emergency
    • No running or pushing near the pool
    • No toys like tricycles near the pool; they can lead to accidental falls into water
  • Establish rules on diving. That means:
    • Don't allow diving if your pool is less than five feet deep.
    • Teach children to dive with their hands in front of their faces.
    • Teach them to swim immediately toward the surface after diving.
    • Do not permit children with diarrhea to swim.
  • Respect storms. Never swim before, during, or after a thunderstorm.
  • Limit alcohol. No under-age drinking is allowed. Adults should limit drinking near the pool. Just two or three drinks can affect a person's judgment, even though he or she may not feel or appear to be drunk. Even a small amount of alcohol can slow reflexes -- especially if the drinker is tired or taking medication like cold/allergy drugs or prescriptions.

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Pool Maintenance and Child Safety

  • Keep the pool child-safe. That means:

 

  • Fences or walls at least four feet high completely around the pool, free of articles that a child could use to climb over fence, such as lawn chairs or BBQ grills
  • Gates that are self-closing and self-latching, that open outward with latches out of reach of children
  • Installing alarms on doors leading to the pool area, or alarms on the pool
  • Using a cover for the pool when it is not in use
  • Making sure drain covers are properly fitted and are paired or have vacuum suction releases to prevent being trapped under water
  • Keeping toys away from the pool when the pool is not in use

 

  • Keep rescue equipment close by. This should include a sturdy, lightweight pole at least 10-12 feet long, a ring buoy with line, and a portable or mobile telephone. Steps and ladders for above-ground pools should be secured or removed when the pool is not in use.
  • Get inspected. Have your pool inspected for electrical hazards, and upgrade all systems according to local codes and the National Electrical Code. Also, any diving board, rock, platform, or slide should be inspected before they are used.
  • Respect electricity. Use battery-operated appliances instead of cord-connected appliances in and around the pool.
  • Prepare for emergency. Know where all electrical switches and circuit breakers for pool equipment and lights are located and how to turn them off in an emergency. Learn how to perform CPR. Keep a first aid kit close by.

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Hot Tub and Spa Safety

Follow these precautions in keeping your hot tub or spa safe:

  • Always supervise. Do not allow anyone -- of any age -- use a spa or hot tub without supervision. Make sure you can see what they're doing.
  • Prohibit drinking. Do not drink alcohol before -- or while -- soaking in a spa or hot tub. Alcohol increases the risk of passing out, heart attack, or injury from passing out and falling.
  • Be careful with medicine. Prescription and over-the-counter medicines sometimes cause drowsiness or other side effects. Check with your doctor about taking these medicines while using a spa or hot tub.
  • Respect drains. Make sure your drains are up to date with the law or code specifications to prevent hair or body parts from getting sucked in. If your pool or spa doesn't have two drains working together, they should have a device to automatically cut off the suction.
  • Talk to children about dangers. Never allow a child to play in a way that would permit hair to come near a drain cover. They should not stick fingers, toes, or body parts into drains. They should not play the "hold your breath underwater" game.
  • Require good behavior from kids. This means:
    • No playful screaming for help (false alarms) that might mask a real emergency
    • No running or pushing near the spa or hot tub
    • No diving or jumping into a spa or hot tub
    • No playing on top of the hot tub cover; they do not support a child's weight.
  • Respect storms. Never use the hot tub or spa before, during, or after a thunderstorm. There is a real danger of electrocution from lightning.
  • Prepare for emergency. Know where all electrical switches and circuit breakers for pool equipment and lights are located and how to turn them off in an emergency. Learn how to perform CPR. Keep a first aid kit close by.

Spa & Hot Tub Maintenance

  • Update drain covers. Make sure your spa or hot tub has newer, safer drain covers that help prevent injuries. If a drain cover is missing or broken, shut down the hot tub until it is replaced. Call a spa or hot tub professional if you are uncertain about this.
  • Get inspected. Have your hot tub and spa inspected for electrical hazards, and upgrade all systems according to local codes and the National Electrical Code.
  • Respect electricity. Use battery-operated appliances instead of cord-connected appliances in and around the pool.
  • Prevent infections. Change hot tub water frequently to prevent "hot tub lung" and "hot tub folliculitis." Also, shower before getting into a hot tub to help keep water clean.
  • Keep water safe. Keep the water temperature at 104 F or below. Keep water clean, properly disinfected, and clear of debris.
  • Use spa covers. They protect children from danger, save energy, and keep debris out of the spa.
  • NO infants allowed. A baby’s thin skin makes it more susceptible to overheating

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