As temperatures heat up in the Valley, there are several ways to ensure your pool is as safe as possible for kids.
The first and best line of defense by far is constant supervision.
“Every child drowning is preventable,” said Tiffaney Isaacson, Water Safety Coordinator with the Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
“I would put as many barriers between the children and the water as you possibly can,” she said.
Isaacson heads up the Water Watchers program with the hospital, and hosts free seminars to educate parents about pool safety. She says everyone needs to do a full inspection of their backyard to identify the weaknesses in their personal safety system.
“Get down to the level of a child,” said Isaacson. “Look at the pool from a child’s perspective, and think about what you would use to get over the pool fence.”
Isaacson suggests using the “Under, over, through” rule: Think about ways to prevent your child from getting under the fence, over the fence, or through the fence.
UNDER: if there is loose soil under the fence that a child could dig through, seal it with concrete.
OVER: make sure there is nothing surrounding the pool that a child could use to climb over the fence, like a chair or a planter.
THROUGH: make sure the space between the bars of the fence is no wider than a soda can.
The Arizona sun can cause damage and warping to the fence, so check it regularly to make sure it works as well as it did the day you bought it.
The fence should be at least five feet high, with only enough space between the bars to fit a soda can.
If the pool backs up to the house, make sure any entrance (doors and windows) have child-proof locks.
Child-proof the latch that opens the pool gate. The traditional flip latch is easy for kids to prop open with a stick or other tool.
“There are also pool nets that can be installed over the pool, and some of those nets can be designed to hold the weight of the child,” said Isaacson, if a fence isn’t an option.
Another good tip is to set an alarm to your back door. Many people will set an alarm at night and turn it off when they wake up. But many alarm systems offer a “chime” feature to ring every time the door opens.
So far this year, there have been 42 water-related rescues in Maricopa and Pinal Counties. 17 people have died, including 8 children.
Services like “Home Hazard Prevention” are available, in which experts come out and inspect your home to make sure the pool area is safe for children and adults.
You can also attend a free Water Watchers seminar to learn more about keeping your child safe.