The Top Two Ways to Keep Kids Safe During Pool Season

June 14, 2012

Robert Lynch, MD, of Mercy Clinic

Pediatric Critical Care, says there are no

shortcuts or substitutions to pool safety essentials

UPDATED, June 5, 2013 with new article

It’s a scary statistic, but in many “pool-friendly” states, drowning is the number one cause of death for children under five (among those old enough to walk or crawl). If you have a pool or a hot tub, or simply know your children will be spending time at or near one, take a minute to make sure you know how to keep kids safe this summer.

Two of the best safeguards to protect young lives are straightforward and obvious. That doesn’t mean they’re easy. But for these two rules, there are no shortcuts or substitutions.

  1. All pools should be isolated with an effective barrier. Especially when no one’s using them. Pool fences must enclose the entire pool, separate it from any house door and must be relatively unclimbable. That means fences should also be at least 48 inches tall and have no horizontal elements that could act as foot or hand-holds. And gates should be self-locking. Easily movable but effective fencing is available for patio pools where permanent fencing is not an option.
  2. Supervision is mandatory. An adult, whose job is to observe the children in the pool, must be present and have a full view of the pool at all times. Too many tragedies happen during a brief period of distraction or when the adult is gone for “just a minute.” And children cannot supervise other children. If the adult must leave the pool area, the swimmers must leave too.

Sound difficult? It can be. But isn’t it worth it? Establish safe pool rules and make following them mandatory. It works. Below are some sites with more comprehensive information and guidelines.

Robert E. Lynch, MD, is a pediatric critical care physician with Mercy Clinic and Mercy Children’s Hospital. For more information, please visit

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