Warmer weather has finally arrived here in Chicagoland – it’s the time of year when many of us start flocking to swimming pools for fun in the water. Whether you are enjoying a pool at a hotel, at a public space, or in your own backyard, it’s important to balance fun with safety, especially when kids are around.
We’ve seen too many cases of swimming pool fun turning into tragedy. Just a few weeks ago, an 11-year-old Chicago girl drowned at a resort swimming pool – an incident that reminds us that drowning isn’t as uncommon as we think. In fact, the CDC says that about 10 people in the US drown every day, and 20 percent of these deaths are children. And for every child fatality, another five have to receive emergency care for non-fatal submersion injuries.
You can help ensure that swimming pool accidents don’t happen to you or your family. Observe these top safety tips when spending time at the pool.
Put up a pool barrier
Did you know that Illinois law requires swimming pools to be enclosed by a fence or barrier? For public pools, the fence must be at least 4 feet high, while for private pools, it should be at least 42 inches (3.5 feet) high. The American Red Cross also recommends that your pool barrier be self-closing and self-latching to further keep away wandering kids. As an added safety measure, you can install a pool alarm to alert you whenever anyone enters the pool.
Always Keep Children Under Active Supervision
This sounds like common sense, but plenty of child drowning incidents occur when parents or guardians look away for just a moment. Active supervision means being at arm’s length from your child and watching out for signs of drowning. Experts say that drowning doesn’t always involve attention-grabbing splashing; instead, it is often silent. There are several signs to watch for. These include when a child’s mouth is at the level of the water, if they are tilting their head back, or if they have glassy or closed eyes.
Be Cautious of Drains
Pool drains are a frequently neglected danger. An unsafe pool drain could suction and entrap a person swimming close to it, and sometimes, even a piece of hair or clothing caught in the drain could lead to drowning.
The Federal Pool and Spa Safety Act passed in 2007 requires swimming pools to have safety drain covers and shut-off valves. Make sure that the pool you are using is compliant with this law, and teach your child to swim clear of the pool drain.
Ensure That Your Loved Ones Can Swim
Knowing how to swim is perhaps the most basic protection from drowning. Warm weather is a great time to learn this life-saving skill, but swimming lessons are available all year round. You can also explore age-appropriate water lessons so that everyone in your family, regardless of age, is able to protect themselves.
When an accident does occur, first aid and CPR know-how can spell the difference between life and death. Anyone can learn CPR through courses offered by authorities such as the Red Cross. These classes are short and inexpensive, and the learned skill will be priceless.
We hope these safety tips will help protect your life and those of your loved ones at the pool. As a personal injury law firm we’re far too familiar with tragic accidents. If you or a loved one was in an unfortunate swimming pool accident where you believe negligence was a play, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a free consultation.