To help protect your children from drowning in a backyard pool, the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly suggests the following swimming pool rules for improved safety. These apply to in-ground, above-ground, and portable (soft-sided) pools. Go over these swimming pool rules regularly with your kids and with visitors.
- Never leave your children alone in or near the swimming 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 old. This means that the adult is within an arm's length of the child at all times.
- Put up a fence to separate your house from the swimming 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. Do not use a chain-link fence (kids can climb them easily). Use gates that self-close and self-latch, with latches higher than your children's reach.
- Pool alarms and rigid pool covers offer additional protection, but a fence is still essential.
- Keep rescue equipment (such as a shepherd's hook or life preserver) and a telephone by the pool. Choose rescue equipment made of fiberglass or other materials that do not conduct electricity.
- Do not use air-filled "swimming aids" or floaties as a substitute for approved life vests. These may give both children and adults a false sense of security.
- Remove all toys from the pool after use so children aren't tempted to reach for them.
- After 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.
- Water awareness and swim lessons are important, but not sufficient to protect your child from drowning.
Source: Policy Statement: Prevention of Drowning. American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Injury, Violence, and Poison. Pediatrics DOI: 10.1542/peds.2010-1264, published online May 24, 2010.