by John Galcius, August 17, 2009
The most important piece of pool safety equipment is a pool fence. A broken, bent or non functioning fence or gate can spell disaster. A pool fence is the one barrier that will protect you from a lawsuit, so make sure that your pool fence is self closing, functional and secure.
Just about all jurisdictions require fencing around pools. There is good reason for this; about 350 children under 5 years old drown in pools each year nationwide, and over half of these incidents occur in June, July and August. Another 2,600 children have to go to the emergency room each year for near-drowning incidents. Most of these cases involve residential pools.
Now, Lets think about this for a minute. Imagine, if each one of these pools had a working, self closing gate and a secure fence. I’m pretty sure many of these deaths and injuries would have been prevented. So many things we take for granted, like the fence around the pool - Always there, gate sometimes closed, sometimes open. Kids, landscapers, the pool guy, neighbors, the dog. There are many factors, reasons, and excuses that the pool gate was left open. None of that matters when tragedy strikes. And if it is your pool, you will be held responsible.
Pool Gate Check List
- Make sure all latches (see figure B) are secure, and working.
- The above gate has a self latching lock. Make sure all locks lock!
- Make sure all hinges (see figure C) are tight, and the bolts are not too tight.
- Make sure all mesh (see figure A) is tied tight, and there are no holes or gaps.
- Remove anything that can be used as a step, or a tool to get over the fence.
- Make sure no space at the bottom is greater than 3”.
- The pool has isolation fencing where possible.
- Automatic closing devices and latches are checked and work.
- Make sure your gate can not be operated or opened by a young child.
“NSW to probe eight backyard pool deaths July 30, 2009
The deaths of eight children who drowned in NSW backyard swimming pools between 2006 and 2008 will be the subject of an inquest later this year. Pool fencing may have been a factor in each of the deaths of the children, all of whom were under the age of four.”
This is from an article from WA Today. Broken fences, open gates and lack of supervision can and will cause deaths. No doubt about it. Below is a chart that shows the percent of emergency department treated submersion injuries of children under age five. Read the full report here.
So, it’s simple. Pool gates and fences save lives. A broken or open gate is a disaster waiting to happen. I just checked the wire. Three more children drowned since I started writing this article a couple of days ago. I wonder if any of those untimely deaths could have been avoided or prevented.