Pool Safety for Families
Layers of Protection
Because drowning is a “silent death,” there is no substitute for attentive adult supervision. Yet there are several other preventative steps parents can take toward pool safety, such as the layers of protection advocated by safety experts such as Appleman and the CPSC.
Pool Access Barrier: A four-sided, ASTM-standard fence should completely surround the swimming pool. The fence should include a self-closing access gate equipped with a child-proof alarm. Parents should inspect the gate and latch regularly to be sure it works properly. Additionally, keep patio furniture or large pool toys that could be used for climbing into the pool area away from fences.
Gate, Door, and Window Alarms: In addition to the gate alarm, parents should use alarms (loud enough to hear throughout the house) that sound when gates, doors, or windows to the pool area are opened. Keep the adult bypass switch out of children’s reach.
Safety Cover: A motor-powered barrier that can be placed over the water area can be used when the pool is not in use.
Pool Alarms: It’s crucial that parents use an ASTM-approved pool alarm to help protect their children. Following are some of the pool alarm types available:
- Surface and subsurface pool alarms: Subsurface alarms, which attach to the pool, sense water motion and will sound if a child of a certain weight falls into the pool. Surface alarms float on the water and often sound false alarms. Neither of these can be used when the pool is in use.
- Sonar pool alarms: This system contains two units—one that mounts on the side of the pool and one in the house. The pool alarm monitors acoustic sounds and will alert you if a child falls into the pool. You can’t use this system when the pool is being used.
- Perimeter pool alarms: This alarm uses a laser beam or infrared light, positioned according to your child’s height, to surround the pool. An alarm sounds when someone breaks the beam.
- Personal immersion—or “wrist”—alarm: These versatile alarms lock onto the child’s wrist with a key and may be used at the pool, in a boat, or even near the bathtub. When the waterproof alarm is immersed in fresh water, a base station will sound to alert the parents. These waterproof devices communicate via the base station. When the wrist alarm is immersed in water the station alarm is activated.
When considering purchase of an alarm system, compare features, price, quality, power source, and reliability. Examine the advantages and disadvantages of each warning system. Most of all, keep in mind the levels of protection recommended and that even the best alarm system is no substitute for vigilant adult supervision of children when it comes to keeping kids safe.
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