Pool Safety – American Academy of Pediatrics
It was with great horror that so many Long Islanders heard or read the tragic news of three-year old twins drowning in their backyard pool this week. The first reports came out as breaking news of the three-year old twin boys, found in their Melville Long Island pool as First Responders were on scene. Just minutes later, the news no one wanted to hear followed. Despite the efforts of first responders, the news would end in the most horrific manner possible. They were pronounced dead at the hospital.
The Melville Police Department responded with a rapid two-minutes arrival after the 911 call was made according to their report. Suffolk County Police responded immediately following and remained on the scene throughout the day.
The family allegedly just moved into the home earlier this summer. Broadcast and print media are giving the family their privacy after the tragedy. Little Nicolas and Anthony’s death caused many on Long Island to shutter; to think of their own children or grandchildren. It is an unthinkable tragedy.
However, with so many backyard pools punctuating the suburban landscape of both counties, it might be prudent to know the laws of your town to ensure your compliance. The home of the twins seemed at a far glance to be in compliance. They had a permit and occupancy certificate (in order to move into the house) – which means legalities regarding the home, it’s yard and pool were in order.
Those precious boys were victims like so many other children. Drowning still remains as the second leading cause of death for children one to nineteen.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics
“A fence that completely surrounds the pool – isolating it from the house – can cut drowning risk in half,” they said. However, some laws regarding large inflatable type above ground pools can fall through the loopholes. “Large, inflatable above-ground pools can contain thousands of gallons of water and may even require filtration equipment, so they are left filled for weeks at a time. But because they are considered “portable,” these pools often are exempt from local building codes requiring pool fencing,” said the esteemed Academy.
AAP offers specific advice for parents:
- Never – even for a moment – leave small children alone or in the care of another young child while in bathtubs, pools, spas or wading pools, or near irrigation ditches or standing water. Bath seats cannot substitute for adult supervision. Empty water from buckets and other containers immediately after use. To prevent drowning in toilets, young children should not be left alone in the bathroom.
- Closely supervise children in and around water. With infants, toddlers and weak swimmers, an adult should be within an arm’s length. With older children and better swimmers, an adult should be focused on the child and not distracted by other activities.
- If children are in out-of-home child care, ask about exposure to water and the ratio of adults to children.
- If you have a pool, install a four-sided fence that is at least 4 feet high to limit access to the pool. The fence should be hard to climb (not chain-link) and have a self-latching, self-closing gate. Families may consider pool alarms and rigid pool covers as additional layers of protection, but neither can take the place of a fence.
- Children need to learn to swim. AAP supports swimming lessons for most children 4 years and older. Classes may reduce the risk of drowning in younger children as well, but because children develop at different rates, not all children will be ready to swim at the same age.
- Parents, caregivers and pool owners should learn CPR.
- Do not use air-filled swimming aids (such as inflatable arm bands) in place of life jackets. They can deflate and are not designed to keep swimmers safe.
- All children should wear a life jacket when riding in a boat. Small children and nonswimmers should also wear one at water’s edge, such as on a river bank or pier.
- Parents should know the depth of the water and any underwater hazards before allowing children to jump in. The first time you enter the water, jump feet first; don’t dive.
- When choosing an open body of water for children to swim in, select a site with lifeguards. Swimmers should know what to do in case of rip currents (swim parallel to the shore until out of the current, then swim back to the shore).
- Counsel teenagers about the increased risk of drowning when alcohol is involved.