Texas Living

Swimming safety

By Ebony Carrington 9.10.13

Splashing and kicking, laughing and giggles — the normal sounds of children basking in that joyous time of year when frolicking in the backyard swimming pool is an everyday occurrence. But that fun can turn deadly if safety becomes a lesser priority. Revisiting basic rules of safety can mean the difference between life and death.

In 2012, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that drowning accidents were No. 5 in the top 10 leading causes of unintentional deaths.

And recently, singer Usher Raymond’s five-year-old son was involved in a “near-death” pool incident that resulted in a minor head injury due to suction entrapment (when an object or limb is held against a pool or spa drain by the force of the pool’s suction).

Drowning is a preventable cause of death and injury, and two small but important safety steps can ensure that you and your family are much more secure in and around public and residential pools.

One step is being sure that the pool has the proper safety equipment, such as a VGB (Virginia Graeme Baker) — compliant drain cover. The story of seven-year-old Virginia’s tragic death inspired her family to advocate for pool and spa safety and moved Congress to act to prevent future entrapment accidents.

Also consider installing a Safety Vacuum Release System (SVRS) that will automatically shut off a pump if a blockage in the drain is detected — or any other automatic shut-off system in your pool or spa.

The second step is to make sure everyone in the residence or using the pool is educated about where the pool pump cut-off switch is located and how to turn it off. Both the drain cover and the shut-off system average about $100.

If someone were to become entrapped, take these actions:

  • Immediately turn off the pump.
  • Instead of pulling the person or object from the suction of the drain, insert a finger or a small object to break the seal and then roll them away until free.
  • Call 911.
  • Learn the basics of CPR so that you and the victim will have the best chance at escaping tragedy.

Taking time to follow safety precautions can mean the difference between a memorable family day at the pool and tragedy.