June 2013 WAJ President's Column

As the temperatures rise, so does the potential for injury

By Jeff Pitman, 2013 WAJ President

Wisconsin is filled with summer time activities for all ages, but few draw the attention of young children more than swimming pools or water parks. So as the temperatures begin to rise, and you gather up the sun screen and towels, it’s important to remember water safety, the potential for injury and how to prevent any possible harm.

Few things can ruin a fun day at the pool like someone getting injured and spending the day in the emergency room. A recent report released by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) focuses on the incredibly high numbers of injuries and fatalities relating to young children at public and residential pools and water parks.

The CPSC reports that 85 percent of swimming pool related fatalities occurred in residential pools. Most deaths occur with children under the age of 5, making drowning the leading cause of accidental death in the home for that age group.

According to the report, an average of 231 pool related fatalities are reported each year in the United States. Approximately 59 percent of those fatalities occurred in below-ground pools.  Above-ground pools accounted for 15 percent of the reported fatalities and portable pools account for 9 percent of the reported fatalities for children under the age of 15.

Accidents involving children can happen quickly and can turn deadly within minutes.  Fortunately, these tragedies are preventable. Knowing, understanding and following these safety guidelines recommended by the CPSC for residential swimming pools are essential:

Install and use barriers (CPSC recommends a minimum of a 48” high barrier) with gates that are self-closing, self-latching and open outward, and away from the pool. The latch should be high enough to be out of a small child’s reach.

  • Safety covers and pool alarms should be added as additional layers of protection.
  • Make sure rescue equipment is always near the pool and easily accessible.
  • If you have an above-ground or inflatable pool, remove access ladders and secure the safely cover whenever the pool is not in use.
  • Remove any structures that provide access to the pool, such as outdoor furniture, climbable trees, decorative walls and playground equipment.

Swimming is one of the most popular summer activities, and it really doesn’t matter how old you are, everyone wants to have fun at the pool. So the best thing you can do to help your family stay safe is to follow the above safety tips whenever you are in or around water.

For additional information regarding swimming pool safety, drowning prevention, and safety regulations, parents are encouraged to visit the CPSC pool safety campaign website at: http://www.poolsafely.gov/

Click here: http://www.cpsc.gov//Global/Research-and-Statistics/Injury-Statistics/Sports-and-Recreation/Pools/PoolSubmersions2013.pdf to view the complete CPSC report.

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