Last weekend we had a rare few hours off. It was a beautiful, hot, sunny day here in Palencia so Darin and I decided to spend the time at the pool. The adult pool at the swim center is always a relaxing place for us and it’s usually where we like to be, but on this afternoon we ended up at the children’s pool near the slide. This was certainly a different experience than we’re used to, the sights and sounds a little closer and more intense. The laughs and shouts from the slide and pool and the occasional command of “walk” reminding us of when our own children were that age. From this vantage point I was able to resume an old habit, one developed many years ago as an overly protective mother and one that I had given up many years ago as my children reached the point where they were comfortable and confident in the water: watching the life guards watching the kids. The life guards on this day were alert and attentive. Professional in carrying out their duties, their rotating shifts providing them a different task and view several times an hour. The kids enjoying the pool and slide were in good hands.
Children in and around private backyard pools are more at risk. At the time of this writing, seven children have died in Jacksonville area pools this year from accidental drowning. The tragedy is that so many of these deaths could have been prevented with standard home pool safety precautions.
The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Safety Act was enacted by Congress in 2007. It requires that public pools have anti-entrapment drain covers installed to prevent hair, limbs, and clothing from becoming trapped underwater by the drain suction. Residential pool installers should also be installing these drain covers but you need to ensure your pool has one. If you’re unsure what they are, Google “anti-entrapment drain covers” and select “images” to see the various types.
Electricity and water don’t mix well. Only single, dedicated electrical outlets for specific equipment are allowed between 6 and 10 feet of the inside edge of the pool and no appliance (TV, radio, etc.) outlets are allowed within 10 feet of the inside edge of the pool; all outlets need to be GFCI protected. No electrical switches are allowed within five feet of the inside edge of the pool. This keeps someone in the water from reaching the switch.
If no screen is present then the fence surrounding the pool must be at least 48 inches high measured from the side opposite the pool. The gate must be self-closing and self-latching. If the gate latch is less than 54 inches above the ground, it must be on the pool side of the gate and at least three inches below the top to prevent children from reaching over the gate to open it. All house doors and windows that have direct access to the pool should be equipped with an alarm and the pool should be equipped with a power safety cover to cover the water when the pool is not in use.
For more information visit www.leg.state.fl.us and search chapter 515, Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act, then take 30 minutes this weekend to inspect your pool for these standard safety features.