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What safety standards exist for public swimming pools?

Florida is among a few states in the U.S. that enjoys the possibility of year-round swimming pool access. Unfortunately, that designation comes with the fact that Florida is the top state for the number of swimming pool accidents recorded every year that result in injury and drowning deaths.

There is no way to prevent every tragedy from occurring. But swimming pools have been around for a long time. And just as there are certain standards of care associated with various professions, there are standards of safety that public swimming pool owners and operators are expected to know and follow.

Holding those individuals or organizations accountable when standards are neglected is something that can only occur if those who fall victim to the lapse in care know what's expected. To that end, here are some basics of pool safety as offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's information for pool operators and parents to heed.

  • Security: According to the CDC, the highest rates of pool drowning deaths occur among children ages 1 to 4. Safety experts estimate that more than half of those deaths could be prevented every year if pools were separated from other areas by fencing at least 4 feet in height. And it doesn't matter if the pool is in-ground or above. Fence it in.
  • Swimming skills: Going to the pool is meant to be fun. It can swiftly turn to tragedy, though, if users aren't educated about basic water safety. Swimming lessons are recommended and the American Academy of Pediatrics backs the notion of starting lessons as early as age one. The CDC says formal lessons could reduce child drowning by up to 88 percent.
  • Personal floatation devices: Lacking the skill that comes with lessons, officials recommend the use of life preservers. We are not talking air-filled beach balls, water wings or foam toys. Experts recommend certified life jackets.
  • Supervision: Perhaps nothing is as important as proper oversight by an adult. And officials say this applies even when the pool has lifeguards.

One other thing that parents might want to check on is whether the pool has been brought up to snuff to prevent the dangers of drain system entrapment. Standards were set in the wake of the 2002 death of a 7-year-old girl and have been required by federal law since 2008.

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