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Death in the Swimming Pool

Now, with the swimming season about to start, a warning might be appropriate of the inherent dangers of swimming pools. Every year, there are some 80 children under the age of five in Spain found dead by drowning. An amazing 73 % of those fatalities occur in swimming pools, and probably five or six of those, here in Mallorca. Death by drowning in the sea is also a major issue here in Mallorca, but that seems to mostly affect adults. Young children do not normally drown in the sea, as their parents seem to supervise them on the beach. Sadly, at home or in rented holiday villas, that parental supervision seems to be more lackadaisical for a false sense of security when, in fact, the opposite is the case.

The Asociación Española de Pediatría (Spanish Paediatricians’ Association) is holding their 59th National Congress in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, right now. One of the round table discussions there focuses on the prevention of swimming pool deaths. In Maspalomas, it was pointed out that in Spain, safety regarding swimming pools is pretty poor. Child death in private swimming pools in Spain comes only second to those caused by traffic accidents, it is claimed. Legislation concerning swimming pools in Spain is considered very poor and not adequate.

So, you better watch out with these young children or grandchildren of yours. Here’s the basic rules to adhere to regarding swimming pools:

  1. Never take your eyes off a child when they are playing near water. Not even for a second.
  2. Maintain constant adult supervision at all times. Constant adult supervision means ‘eye-to-eye’ contact.
  3. Install an independent fence or barrier completely surrounding the pool. Fences should be five feet high. Gates should be self-closing and self-latching, opening outward, away from the pool.
  4. Install additional ‘layers of protection’ (i. e., safety covers, alarms on doors, motion detection devices).
  5. Inspect and maintain barriers regularly.
  6. Keep items which can be used for climbing away from pool fences.
  7. Doors and windows leading to the pool should be secured and locked at all times.
  8. Assign an adult Water Watcher to supervise the pool area, especially during social gatherings.
  9. Don’t rely on swimming lessons, life preservers, or any other equipment to make a child ‘water safe’.
  10. Look in the pool area first if a child is missing.
  11. Mount rescue equipment by the pool, such as lifesaving ring, shepherd’s hook, and CPR (a combination of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and chest compressions) sign.
  12. At least one adult family member should know CPR.
  13. Have a phone near the pool. Display emergency telephone numbers on the phone as well as the physical address of the pool.
  14. Never keep large floating toys in or around a pool as they block the view.
  15. Never swim when there is lightning or thunder.
  16. Do not allow running on the edge of the pool.
  17. Keep deck areas free of clutter.
  18. Teach all children to swim as early as possible.
  19. Never allow young children to dive into a pool.
  20. Install pool lights for night vision.
  21. Have a clear view of the pool from inside your home.
  22. Remove automatic vacuums from the pool before swimming.
  23. Keep pool chemicals locked away.
  24. Never allow extension cords near a pool.
  25. Make sure your babysitters can swim and have them demonstrate their ability.

The photo was taken near Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 31st, 2010. The time was 09:56:01.

4 replies »

  1. Thanks for writing this article. Pool safety is a very important issue and layers of protection can reduce the possibility of accidental drowning of your children and pets.

  2. Kids swimming in the pool should be a great lifelong memory, unless the proper safety tips were ignored or overlooked. We all need to pay attention when children are in the water, even if it isn’t your child. We should all learn CPR because every scary situation needs a hero.

  3. That’s a very good list of tips for parents. Whenever at a new place with swimming pools, parents should warn their kids of the potential danger and remind them of rules set beforehand. Kids are forgetful of such things.

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