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Published: Thursday, 7/24/2008

Pool Safety Measures Ensure a Safe Summer

(ARA) - Most adults can recall many pleasurable hours spent swimming, splashing and playing in pools in their formative years. Parents want those same great memories for their children, but many have concerns that keep them from enjoying a pool in their own backyard. Families with young children may be hesitant to buy a home with a pool, or to have one constructed, despite the opportunity for years of pleasure for the entire family.

Pool safety should always be top-of-mind where children are concerned, but with safety barriers -- or layers of protection -- in place between the home and the pool, homeowners can experience the pleasures of private swimming pools and feel confident that their children, grandchildren and visitors will be safeguarded from unintentional pool access.

The key safety barrier -- and the only one with proven effectiveness -- is isolation fencing, which separates the pool from the home. An isolation fence can surround the pool or enclose all doors leading from the home to prevent children who get out the door from moving beyond the patio. For above-ground pools, a fence and gate surrounding the steps or ladder can prevent toddler access. Parents of toddlers should ensure "doggy doors" are locked or within fenced areas.

 As isolation fence between a home and a pool can prevent unauthorized access by young children.
As isolation fence between a home and a pool can prevent unauthorized access by young children.

Organizations like the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA) recommend multiple barriers to prevent unauthorized access to unsupervised water, beginning with isolation fencing between the home and the pool.

NDPA founder and D&D Technologies Communications Manager Maureen Williams says, "The effectiveness of isolation fencing with properly functioning gates has been demonstrated in research studies worldwide.

"The NDPA recommends that additional layers of protection, such as door, gate or water alarms or covers be in place as secondary barriers in case the primary barrier fails, such as when someone props open a gate," Williams says. "Swimming lessons are also an important layer of prevention."

Pool barrier codes require pool gates to be self-closing, self-latching and to open away from the pool. The latch release may be required to be at 54 or 60 inches and be key-lockable. Check with your local code officials for specifics.

Both the NDPA and the Safer 3 program recommend that a "water watcher" be designated for safety when children are in the pool to maintain eye-to-eye contact at all times. Most child drowning accidents occur when adults are momentarily distracted, leaving children unsupervised. Courtesy of ARAcontent

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