July 5, 2013

Editorial: Pool safety saves lives


---- — The rain is finally drying up, and the temperature is more what one would expect in early July. That means backyard pools around this area might finally get some use.

Not to put a damper on the joy that comes with that thought, but it’s crucial to pay attention to pool safety to protect families, friends — and strangers.

The New York Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection notes that children under the age of 15 make up more than 78 percent of pool and spa submersion injuries in the United States each year. And the youngest kids are the most vulnerable: 67 percent of those who are hurt are under age 3.

New York demands that pools comply with state regulations, and many communities around the North Country have their own codes, as well.

“In most cases, a pool or spa or the area where it is located must be completely surrounded by an intact fence or barrier at least 48 inches high; gates must be self-closing and self-latching; one or more pool alarms, door alarms and/or gate alarms may be required; and the pool or spa must have anti-entrapment drain covers that are compliant with the Pool and Spa Safety Act, the State Uniform Code ... and any applicable local law, ordinance, rule or regulation,” according to the Division of Consumer Protection. 

To keep everyone safe, the agency also offers these suggestions:

Learn to swim: This is the very best defense against preventing accidental drowning of children and adults.

Don’t leave children unattended: Even if a child is a good swimmer, an adult should be on watch.

Look for lifeguards: If you are swimming in a public pool, make sure a lifeguard is on duty at all times.

No diving: Diving can cause serious injury or death if the pool is not deep enough. Only dive into pools that have a designated deep “diving area.” Most backyard swimming pools don’t qualify.

Avoid alcohol: Alcohol slows reaction time and affects balance and judgment, so avoid drinking if you plan to swim.

Remove toys: Be cognizant of what toys and floats you leave in and around the pool, as well as any climbing device that can provide pool access. Some toys may lure young children to the water.

Plan for emergencies: Have an emergency plan that includes CPR training. Learn how to turn off the pool or spa pump should a suction entrapment occur, and know where to immediately find rescue equipment. Have a phone with you, whenever possible, so you can quickly dial 911, if needed.

The Division of Consumer Protection and the Division of Codes offer more information at

By eliminating safety concerns, people can enjoy cooling off in pools around here without the threat of tragedy.