With pool season just around the corner, property managers and Home Owner Associations (HOA) have to assess pool safety and create a strategy for managing risks. The lives of residents and children are at stake.
While pools are intended to be oases of relaxation and fun, if they are not properly managed, they can cause drowning and other fatal accidents. Ten people die every day from unintentional drowning in the U.S., among which two are children aged 14 or younger. Around 300 children younger than five drown in swimming pools and spas every year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Furthermore, 4,000 children end up in the ER due to pool-related incidents — non-fatal pool incidents often cause brain damage and long-term disability.
In addition to drowning, pools can also be responsible for other fatal accidents such as drain entrapment. In June 2002, seven-year-old Graeme Baker was trapped underwater by the suction from a spa drain. Graeme was a member of her swim and diving team, but neither her experience in the pool nor the intervention of her mother and two other men was able to free her.
After her unfortunate death, her mother campaigned for the introduction of The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (P&SS). It was passed in 2002 and regulates the safety of public and private pools and spas. Nevertheless, in 2007 alone there were 74 reports of pool entrapment in public and residential pools resulting in nine deaths. Most of these reports involved children between the ages of five and nine.
Drain entrapment incidents can occur in a number of ways:
Faulty drain covers or suction openings are not always easy to spot after the pool is filled with water. Without adequate revision before the summer season, they may go unnoticed until they cause serious accidents.
Any residential or public pool is at risk. For HOAs and apartment building managers, pools can be silent killers that claim the lives of the most vulnerable — children. The only way for pool managers to prevent fatal accidents and mitigate de-risks of drowning is to review their pool safety policies and perform adequate maintenance work.
It is possible for HOA and pool managers to keep safe a pool without a lifeguard. Measures such as lifesaving equipment, camera monitoring, strict bathing loads, and adult supervision for children under the age of 12 can dramatically reduce risks. While these measures are concerned primarily with accident prevention, it’s important to note the importance of water treatment and inspection. This includes filtration, chlorination, pH level, calcium hardness, and alkalinity.
People swimming in the pool are often the main source of contamination with disease-causing bacteria and pathogens, which calls for periodic water quality tests. The clarity of the water is also essential, as murky water can hide from view drowning or struggling victims, leading to late responses to energy situations which in turn increases the risks of irreparable brain damage.
As most HOAs do not have specialized pool maintenance staff, this calls for professional services provided by a certified company. It is recommended that HOAs and pool managers should have their pools inspected by a licensed professional engineer. They should also install P&SS Act compliant covers.
Improving pool safety does not have to be an expensive endeavor. Simple extra safety steps such as fences, drain safety devices, and child supervision at the pool can significantly minimize risks. Tighter pool access rules can also be used to control who goes into the pool and when. These can be applied to any type of pool, regardless of size or design. The dangers of not revising pool security and compliance are far greater than any expenses this revision may entail.
Ensuring pool safety is admittedly a multi-step process. Make sure don’t skip any safety measure. Download now our Pool Safety Checklist for a step-by-step approach to securing your pool against all risks.
Learn How to Keep Your Community Safe with our Free Pool Safety Checklist
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