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Pool Safety

Having a pool, pond, spa, or hot tub on your property is a huge responsibility when it comes to safety. Remember, drowning can happen in seconds to minutes, and is often completely silent. So vigilance is key. Here's how can you keep kids — yours and others' — safe.

Fencing

A fence that goes directly around a pool or spa is the best safety investment you can make. Four-sided pool fencing decreases water-related injuries in young children by over 50%.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says fences should meet these standards:

  • They should be at least 4 feet (130 centimeters) high, though experts prefer a height of 5 feet (152 centimeters). They should have no foot or handrails for kids to climb on.
  • The slats should be less than 4 inches (110 millimeters) apart so a child can't get through. A chain link fence should have no openings larger than 1-3/4 inches (50 millimeters).
  • Gates should be self-closing and self-latching. The latch should be out of kids' reach, at least 4-1/2 feet (137 centimeters) above the bottom of the gate.

Pool Rules

If you have a pool, make sure that kids:

  • Do not run or push each other around the pool.
  • Never dive in areas that are not marked for diving.
  • Get out of the pool right away in bad weather, especially if there's lightning.

Above all, watch kids at all times. Swimming lessons and flotation devices do not eliminate drowning risks.

Other things to keep in mind:

  • If you're at a party, designate an adult to watch kids in the pool. Consider a "water watcher badge" for this person to wear while he or she is responsible for the safety of swimmers. This person should be sober and not distracted.
  • Seconds count in a water emergency, so keep your cellphone with you when it's your turn to watch the kids in case there's an emergency.
  • Make sure that babysitters and other caregivers know your rules for the pool.
  • Learn CPR.
  • Keep safety equipment, such as emergency flotation devices, in good shape and close by when swimming.
  • After your kids finish playing in the pool, put all pool toys away. Children have drowned while trying to get playthings left in the pool.
  • If you have an above-ground pool, always lock or remove the ladder when the pool is not in use.
Reviewed by: Sarah K. Romero, MD
Date reviewed: May 2019