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|Facts About Drowning|Keep an Eye on your Kids,
Drowning is Preventable!
In California, drowning is the number one cause of accidental death for children 1-4 years of age. In the city of West Covina, there are more swimming pools per capita than any other city in Los Angeles County. Approximately one in every six West Covina households has a backyard swimming pool - with a total of 5,500 pools. Fire Department emergency response records indicate that five to fifteen children drown or near drown within the West Covina city limits every year.
Concerned by this ever present danger, Chief Richard Greene, and the members of the West Covina Fire Department are embarking on a citywide campaign to put a stop to drowning. A drowning Prevention Task Force has been formed and its objective is to implement a comprehensive drowning prevention program. The goal of this group is to stamp out ALL drowning in the City. The drowning prevention program entitled the S.E.A.L.S. program (Safety Education for Aquatic Life Safety) will include educational, financial, and enforcement information and activities.
The educational portion consists of a curriculum for school children, with water safety messages for students and their parents.
The code enforcement portion features voluntary pool inspections provided by Fire Department personnel, at no charge to residents. Safety hazards will be identified and recommendations on methods to correct the areas in question will be provided. Information will be distributed on the City loans available to homeowners for needed upgrades to pool safety standards.
Through an application, pool owners may request financial help in the installation of fencing, pool alarm systems, self-closing, self-latching gates, locks for sliding doors and windows, and other types of safety equipment. Fire Department personnel will be available to answer questions regarding the inspections and the process of applying for funds.
Drowning Prevention Tips
- In California, drowning is a leading cause of accidental death for children one through four years age.
- Children drown in pools, spas, buckets, toilets and bathtubs. A child can drown in as little as two inches of water.
- A child can drown in less time than it takes to answer the telephone.
- 67% of all drowning deaths occur in their own backyard pool, spa or hot tub.
- The majority of drowning incidents occur while the caretaker assumed the child was safely indoors.
- 25% of all children who have drowned or nearly drowned have had swimming lessons. The risk of a drowning or near drowning is highest during the first six months a family has a pool.
- For every drowning, an additional five near drowning cases are treated in the emergency room. Irreversible brain damage occurs in 3 to 5 minutes.
- In California there are more than 330 people with irreversible brain damage because of near drowning incidents. Of this total more than 75 people are currently hospitalized at a cost of $120,000 per year for life.
- Drowning is a silent killer. The victims don't cry for help. They are not getting enough air to breathe, so they don't have the extra air needed to call for help.
Pools Inspection List
- There is no substitute for adequate supervision. Children need to be watched. Never leave children unattended in or around pools or spas - not even for a second.
- Access to the pool or spa area should be limited by locked doors, windows and self closing, self latching gates on fences surrounding the pool. Latches should be above the reach of children.
- Do not allow children to play in pool areas. Keep toys out of the area.
- Keep rescue equipment such as a long handled hook and a ring buoy with a rope hanging near the pool.
- Many floatation toys are thought to be lifesavers but they are not! They are only toys and should be used only as toys and with adult supervision.
- Install a phone by the pool so you can answer it without leaving children unattended.
- Always keep chairs, tables, or toys away from the pool or spa fence to keep children from using them to climb over.
- Do not allow anyone of any age to swim alone. Drowning happens to adults too. When you are entertaining a group of children or adults, have a designated pool watcher who is responsible for keeping track of everyone. Examples of safe water behavior by adults are important for young children.
- Always completely remove a pool or spa cover before use to avoid the possibility of anyone being trapped and drowning under the cover.
- Have members of the family take a swim class and learn CPR.
- Is your pool surrounded by a 5 foot 6 inch high or higher fence or barrier?
- Is the fence childproof with bars not more than 4 inches apart? If it is a chain link fence, the diamond shaped opening should be no larger than 1 3/4 inches.
- Are the gates self-closing and self-latching? The self latching mechanism should be out of the reach of children.
- Is the self-latching mechanism at least 54 inches, from the bottom of the gate? If less than 54 inches, the latching mechanism should be located on the pool side of the gate.
- Are all the gates kept locked?
- Are all exit doors and windows leading from the house to the pool kept locked and secured?
- Are pool rules posted in a visible location?
- Is rescue equipment kept near the pool? A ring buoy with an attached line and/or a long handled hook.
- Is the pool cover completely removed or properly installed? Never use a pool with its pool cover partially in place.
- Are steps and ladders leading to an above ground pool secured, locked or removed when the pool is not in use?
- Are there plenty of approved PFD's (Personal Flotation Devices) available?
- Are the diving board and any slides in safe operating condition?
- Does the hot tub or spa have a solid, locking cover, and is the cover in place and locked when the spa or hot tub is not in use?