The Crusader Newspaper Group

The Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal Reminds Everyone to Practice Water Safety in and Around Pools

69% of young children who drown were not expected to be in or near water

As the summer heat continues in Illinois, pools are a favorite destination for many to cool off. It’s important to follow all posted rules and pay attention to any children when around bodies of water. The number of pools installed in backyards drastically increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning adults need to be extra vigilant to protect any children who have access to the water. It is also essential to take proper steps to keep pools secured and restrict access to prevent injuries and drownings from occurring.

“It’s important to keep all gates closed and the area around pools secure when you are not using them to prevent an accident from occurring. If you or your neighbors have children, talk to them about safety in and around pool areas. Let them know the pool is off limits without an adult nearby,” said Acting Illinois State Fire Marshal Dale Simpson.

According to the American Red Cross, 69% of young children who are found drowned or submerged in swimming pools were not expected to be in or at the pool. For children younger than 5, 87% of drowning fatalities happen in home pools or hot tubs.

Each day, approximately two children under 15 years old die from drowning. Children ages 1–4 have the highest drowning rates, and most happen in swimming pools. Drowning can happen anytime, particularly when children gain unsupervised access to pools. Fatal drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury death behind motor vehicle crashes for children ages 1–14 according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Pool chemicals, like chlorine, are needed to protect swimmers’ health. However, mishandling pool chemicals can cause serious injuries. Pool chemical injuries lead to about 4,500 U.S. emergency department visits each year, and over one-third of these preventable injuries are in children or teens.

The USA Swimming Foundation, in collaboration with the CPSC’s Pool Safety campaign, between Memorial Day and Labor Day 2019, reported at least 150 children younger than age 15 fatally drowned in swimming pools or spas, which is up by two drownings from 2018. The U.S. Swimming Foundation statistics show formal swimming lessons reduces the likelihood of childhood drowning by 88%.

Below are some simple steps to keep children safer in and around the water:

  • Install a four-sided fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate around all pools and spas.
  • Check to make sure the gate is locked or closed when leaving the pool or spas.
  • Keep the pool and deck clear of floats, balls, and toys after leaving the pool.
  • Always ensure children swim with an adult or buddy.
  • Designate an adult Water Watcher to supervise children at all times around the water. Stay off your phone, put your book down, and pay attention to whoever is in or around the water!
  • Never leave a child unattended in or near water.
  • Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim.
  • Learn how to perform CPR on children and adults.
  • Teach children to stay away from pool drains, pipes, and other openings to avoid entrapments.
  • Ensure any pool or spa has drain covers that comply with federal safety standards. If you are unsure, ask your pool service provider about safer drain covers.
  • If you are installing a new pool, hot tub, or spa, be sure the wiring is performed by an electrician experienced in the special safety requirement for these types of installations.
  • Empty or flip over inflatable pools when you are finished using them for the day.

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