Pool safety makes summer more enjoyable

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 21, 2000

Jack, 12, Reid, 5, and Clay, 12, horse around in the Daughtry swimming pool under the watchful eye of an adult. Each of the children learned how to swim at an early age, and each is familiar with and follow all the rules of the pool set up for their safety.

Photo by Alicia Weldon

Alicia Weldon

Staff Writer

Summer has officially begun, and pools all over the sultry South are teeming with children keeping cool and having fun.

However, to avoid tragedy during the summer months of the drowning of a child, many area parents have strict rules about the dos and don'ts around their private pools.

Anne Daughtry, a Greenville mother of three, knows about pool safety. Since they have lived in their current home, making sure her children, especially the two youngest, Jack, 12, and Reid, 5, knew the rules of the pool.

"Before Reid could swim, he knew that the number one rule of the pool was to always wear a life jacket," Daughtry said. She keeps a watchful eye on the two boys and a neighborhood friend Clay, 12. "He never left our deck without one on."

Daughtry said she also always keeps the pool gate locked when they are not around.

"The children across the street know not to come at all if we are not home," she said.

Daughtry's children are also not allowed to get into the pool when an adult is not around. If she is not home, then the children can only swim if their older sister Emily, 17, is watching out for them.

"They've never even argued about it," Daughtry said.

She added that teaching her children to swim was also a top priority. Each of her three children learned how to swim at an early age at the YMCA and have benefited from it. They can now enjoy their pool, which is eight feet deep at its deepest, get exercise and play outside safely.

The Alabama Department of Public Health advises that about 350 children under five years old drown in pools each year nationwide and 2,600 are treated in hospital emergency rooms for near-drowning incidents. In Alabama, there were 108 drowning deaths in 1998, most involving residential pools.

Some pool owners have invested in pool alarms designed to sound a warning if a child falls into the water, such as floating alarms, underwater alarms and a wristband alarm.

However, the alarms should not be the only safeguard to prevent a drowning of a child.

The Department of Public Health also advises that there should be a fence or wall around the pool at least four feet high to prevent children from entering. Fence gates should be self-closing and self-locking, and if a house forms a barrier on one side of the pool, all doors leading to the pool should be alarmed.

When the pool is not being used, a power safety cover – a motor-powered barrier that can be placed over the pool – can be utilized. If one owns an above-ground pool, steps and ladders should be locked or removed when not in use.

Aside from keeping the children safe, Daughtry also believes that keeping the pool clean is just as important.

"Kids can get sick, get rashes or other diseases if the pool is not clean," she said. "The water is not hard to keep treated and balanced if you keep up with it."