Pool Safety for Children

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an average of 350 children under five years of age drown each year in swimming pools, many in residential pools. The Commission estimates that another 2,600 children under age five are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year following submersion incidents. Some of these submersions result in permanent brain damage.

Nationally, drowning is a leading cause of death to children under five. The key to preventing these tragedies is to have layers of protection. This includes placing barriers around your pool to prevent access, using pool alarms, closely supervising your child and being prepared in case of an emergency.

To protect your child from potential pool and spa-related injuries, we recommend that you:

  • Never leave your children alone in or near the pool, even for a moment. An adult who knows CPR should actively supervise children at all times.
  • Practice touch supervision with children younger than 5 years. This means that the adult is within an arm's length of the child at all times.
  • You must put up a fence to separate your house from the pool. Most young children who drown in pools wander out of the house and fall into the pool. Install a fence at least 4 feet high around all 4 sides of the pool. This fence will completely separate the pool from the house and play area of the yard. Use gates that self-close and self-latch, with latches higher than your children's reach.
  • Keep rescue equipment (such as a shepherd's hook or life preserver) and a telephone by the pool.
  • Do not use air-filled "swimming aids" as a substitute for approved life vests.
  • Remove all toys from the pool after use so children aren't tempted to reach for them.
  • After the children are done swimming, secure the pool so they can't get back into it.
  • A power safety cover that meets the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) may add to the protection of your children but should not be used in place of the fence between your house and the pool. Even fencing around your pool and using a power safety cover will not prevent all drownings.

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