Drowning is the leading cause of death in children under five in the state of Florida, a horrible statistic. Last year, 228 children aged 12 or younger drowned here, more than any other state. I find that a chilling statistic.
Most, if not all of these senseless deaths could have been prevented. I cannot even begin to imagine the grief a parent of a deceased child must feel. As adults, we have an obligation to make certain no child is ever harmed in or around our home pools.
Pool safety starts with making sure no youngster is EVER permitted in the pool area without a responsible adult present. Many drowning stories reported by the media, state that the parent or grandparent took their eyes off of the child for just a short amount of time. We all know how hard it is to keep up with young kids, especially those of us who are grandparents. However, if we have a pool, there is no excuse for anything less than constant vigilance.
This does not allow the person responsible any time to talk on the phone, eat a snack, read or anything else that will take attention away from the kids in the pool, no exceptions. If the adult supervisor needs to leave the area, another adult must take their place or the kids must exit the pool and be brought inside. Sure, I know that’s not very convenient and will cause the kids to be upset, water getting tracked inside the house and a host of other problems. Tough! It is better to suffer through all of those issues to save the life a child. We are adults; we need to do whatever is needed to keep our kids safe.
When we purchased our Florida home, the first thing we did was hire a locksmith to install child-proof locks on the sliding glass doors that lead out to the pool. Our grandchildren were under four years old at the time and we knew they would be visiting us soon. We took no chances with their safety. The kids were not permitted in the lanai without an adult present. We can see the pool from most of the rooms in our house, but we still required at least one adult outside with the kids.
We insisted on keeping the sliding glass doors locked when no one was outside to prevent the kids from going out on their own. There is no sense in installing locks without putting them to use.
Florida building codes require a safety fence to be installed around any new pool built. However, after the code inspector takes a look at the fence, the state cannot force a homeowner to use it. Often, these devices are left unused. The same goes for pool safety nets that go over the entire pool and alarms that signal any disturbance in the pool’s surface, both are ineffective unless they are used.
The bottom line is, the safety of youngsters in your pool is your responsibility. Tell the kids how important it is for them to adhere to your pool rules. Explain to them just why they cannot be alone in the pool area. Not only will you be informing them of the need for caution, you will be teaching them a lesson in responsibility.
Keep a sharp eye on the kids; build lasting memories of the fun times. Diligence now will prevent regret in the future.
FOG sez: This so very important, please read it again and make sure you take charge of your pool when the kids are present. No joking.