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Pool drownings often quick, silent

June 16, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The heat is on, and kids everywhere are ready for a summer at the pool. But keeping them safe is no accident. The do's and don'ts you need to know.Even if you have a fence around the yard, you need to have a fence around your pool, too. A tragedy can happen way too fast and too easily.

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The Consumer Product Safety Commission wants pool owners to know they have a responsibility in preventing a backyard death. Child drownings take only seconds to happen and are usually very silent.

"What we want to see is layers of protection, layers of barriers, to create an obstacle course, so that when that lapse in visual contact breaks down - as it will - that the kids have to go through this course - with fences and covers and so on - to get to the pool," said product safety investigator Marcia Kerr

Marcia Kerr is a commissioner investigator and an expert in pool safety. She lost her two-year-old son to a pool drowning when the child's nanny was distracted.

"As two year olds do, he got up without announcing that he was going outside, and he went out our sliding screen door, which was not locked at the time. And actually wanted to get out of the water, we believe, instead of falling in, because the paramedics found him later with little swimming suits around his neck," said Kerr.

Constant adult supervision is the best protection, but even that's not perfect. All pools should have a fence not just around the yard, but around the pool too. The fence should be at least four feet high with a self-closing, self-latching gate.

If a child gets out of reach, have a safety hook close at hand to bring them back to safety. Don't rely on inflatable toys to keep a child afloat. Don't ever prop the gate open, even when you're out by the pool. Keep it locked when the pool's not in use.

"Know that it's silent -- there's no splashing, there's no screaming. The child can go right out the back door, fall right into the water, and many times they go right to the bottom," said Kerr.

Think of a swimming pool or spa as a loaded gun in your backyard. You certainly wouldn't want a child having access to the gun, and the same should be true for a pool or spa.

Click here for more safety information from the ABCs of a Safe Summer

 

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