WaterWorks Blog

Swimming Pool Safety Facts

Posted by Krista Payne on Jul 18, 2012 8:11:55 AM

Swimming Pool Chemicals Can be Hazardous

Fact: Poison Control Centers receive as many as 10,000 reports of exposure to chlorine in pool chemicals annually, with two in every five cases involving children under the age of six, according to the CDC. Another 4,000 cases are reported for respiratory and eye irritation, usually from improper storing, mixing or using of pool chemicals.

What You Can Do:
Store pool chemicals separately, in a dry place away from heat or direct sunlight.
Never mix chemicals. Particularly with chlorine-based products, any mixture with an acid can release deadly chlorine gas.
Consider a custom swimming pool with a ultraviolet sterilizer and hydrogen peroxide system which manages disinfection without the use of harsh chemicals.

Children Are at Highest Risk of Drowning

Fact: While 8 in 10 drownings are over age 14, children age 1-4 have the highest drowning rates, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In that young age group, nearly one in three deaths from accidental injury come from drowning. For every death by drowning in those age 14 and under, there are four visits to emergency rooms for near-drownings, which can result in lifelong injury, including permanent brain damage.

What You Can Do:
Whenever young children are swimming, an adult who knows how to perform child CPR should be supervising at arms length. Supervising the young swimmers should be that adult's sole occupation.
If your home has a pool, it should be fenced on four sides, which reduces risk of drowning from unsupervised swimming by more than 80%.
After a supervised swimming is done, clear the area of pool toys to remove the temptation for children to return to the pool unsupervised. Most drowning deaths among young children happen at times when parents are nearby, but a child visits the pool alone.

Most Adult Drownings Happen Away from Home

Fact: For older teens and adults, age 15 and up, most drownings occur in natural settings like lakes, rivers and oceans. Alcohol is a factor in nearly half the drownings in this age group, according to the CDC.

What You Can Do
Avoid alcohol if you're swimming, boating or enjoying other water sports.
Heed local weather conditions and warnings. Avoid dangerous conditions like thunderstorms or strong currents.
Swim where there's a lifeguard whenever possible, and swim with a buddy — never alone.

Boys and Girls are Equally at Risk of Drowning

Myth: Four in five drowning victims are boys or men, according to CDC drowning statistics. Research has shown that boys and men are more likely to be over-confident in their swimming abilities, and younger adults are more likely than older adults to be over-confident.

What You Can Do:
Enroll your children in swimming lessons at an early age. Risk of drowning is decreased by nearly 90% when children aged 1 to 4 years participate in formal swimming lessons. Adults, too, can benefit from refresher courses. But be aware that adult supervision of young swimmers is still essential even if they've had good swimming lessons.
Know your limits!

Most Adult Drownings Happen Away from Home

Fact: For older teens and adults, age 15 and up, most drownings occur in natural settings like lakes, rivers and oceans. Alcohol is a factor in nearly half the drownings in this age group, according to the CDC.

What You Can Do
Avoid alcohol if you're swimming, boating or enjoying other water sports.
Heed local weather conditions and warnings. Avoid dangerous conditions like thunderstorms or strong currents.
Swim where there's a lifeguard whenever possible, and swim with a buddy — never alone.

Life Jackets Should Be Worn Even on Short Trips

Fact: Whether you're hopping in a canoe for a short paddle around a quiet lake, or jetting off on a motor boat for the day, remember that life jackets save lives. After boating accidents, 90% of people who drown were not wearing life jackets, according to the CDC. In 2009, there were 736 deaths and more than 3,300 injuries in boating accidents.

What You Can Do:
Stock life jackets and wear them. Inflatable or foam toys aren't a substitute.

If the Beach is Open, It's Safe for Swimming

Myth: While health and environmental agencies from the Environmental Protection Agency down to the local health department have a role in testing water quality at public beaches, watchdogs say the tests aren't always frequent enough, and the standards aren't always set high enough, to inspire 100% confidence. In 1972, with the passage of the Clean Water Act, Congress set the goal of making all U.S. water safe for swimming by 1983, and while water is much cleaner today than a generation ago, contamination, particularly from sewer overflows after heavy rainstorms, remains a problem. The EPA reports that 95% of beaches were safe and open for swimming in 2011. But the Natural Resources Defense Council tallied more than 23,481 beach closings and swimming advisories due to pollution.

What You Can Do:
Before swimming, ask officials about water quality testing at your local beach. You'll want to swim where the water usually tests clean, where the water is tested frequently and where officials close the beach whenever contamination is present. Search 200 of the most popular U.S. swimming spots with NRDC's Testing the Waters chart.
Avoid swimming for at least 24 hours after heavy rains, which are known to wash harmful bacteria from land and sewers into water.
Don't swim near obvious sources of pollution, like discharge pipes, or where garbage accumulates.
Do your part by properly disposing of pet waste and human waste on boats.
Support efforts to upgrade sewage systems to minimize "combined sewage overflows" that result when sewers are inundated with rain water.

Topics: Health & Wellness