The Chief’s Corner

Pool Safety during the Summer Season

By Robert W. Seltzer, BSEE, EFO, MPA Chief Smithfield Fire Dept.

As we enter the summer months outdoor recreational activities amongst families increases due to the nice weather finally arriving. With increased outdoor recreation, increased recreational accidents are answered by emergency medical responders throughout the state. Of particular concern are pool accidents.

Why so important? Globally more than 40 people die by drowning every hour of every day. Drowning is one of the top 10 leading causes of death for children in every region of the world as reported by the World Health Organization.

Follow these tips to reduce the probability of a pool accident.

Pool Electrical Safety:

If you are putting in a new pool, hot tub, or spa be sure the wiring is performed by a licensed electrician experienced in the special safety requirements for these types of installations.
Ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) are special devices designed to protect against electric shock and electrocution. They are required for most pool equipment.
Avoid handling electrical devices when you are wet.
Do not swim during a thunderstorm.
Have a qualified electrician periodically inspect, and – when necessary – replace or upgrade the electrical devices or equipment that keep your pool electrically safe.

Safety Tips for Portable Pools:

Empty and put away smaller portable pools after every use.
Once the pool is setup, ensure high levels of supervision.
Fence portable pools and encourage neighbors to do the same.
Cover larger portable pools and put access ladders away when adults are not present.

General Safety Tips:

Watch kids when they are in or around water, without being distracted. Keep young children within arm’s reach of an adult. Make sure older children swim with a partner every time.
Make sure kids learn how to swim and develop these five water survival skills:

– step or jump into water over their heads and return to the surface;

– float or tread water for one minute;

– turn around in a full circle and find an exit;

– swim 25 yards to exit the water; and

– exit the water. If in a pool, be able to exit without using the ladder

Teach children that swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool. They need to be aware of uneven surfaces, river currents, ocean undertow and changing weather.
Learn and practice CPR so you can help in an emergency.
Whether you’re swimming in a backyard pool or in a lake, teach children to swim with an adult. Older, more experienced swimmers should still swim with a partner every time. From the first time your kids swim, teach children to never go near or in water without an adult present.
A swimming pool is a ton of fun for you and your kids. Make sure backyard pools have four-sided fencing that’s at least 4 feet high and a self-closing, self-latching gate to prevent a child from wandering into the pool area unsupervised.
Install alarms on doors leading from the house to the pool area that will alert you when someone enters the pool area.
Because drowning occurs quickly and quietly, adults should not be involved in any other distracting activity (such as reading, playing cards, talking on the phone, or mowing the lawn) while supervising children, even if lifeguards are present.
Air-Filled or Foam Toys are not safety devices. Don’t use air-filled or foam toys, such as “water wings”, “noodles”, or inner-tubes, instead of life jackets. These toys are not life jackets and are not designed to keep swimmers safe. Plastic “water wings” or “floaties” can fall off while the child is in the water.
Never use floatation devices in lieu of supervision.
Avoid Alcohol. Avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming, boating, or water skiing. Do not drink alcohol while supervising children.

Enjoy your summer and Stay Safe!