SOURCE: Underwriters Laboratories Inc.

May 26, 2005 13:00 ET

Poolside Precautions Prevent Tragedy

Adult Supervision Is the Key to Keeping Children Safe in Backyard Pools

NORTHBROOK, IL -- (MARKET WIRE) -- May 26, 2005 -- Across the nation Memorial Day will mark the beginning of summer family fun in home swimming pools. However, unless parents or other adults provide constant supervision of children near a backyard pool, a fun event can quickly turn tragic.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says that each year more than 250 children under the age of 5 drown, most frequently in home swimming pools. For 2004, 2,300 children were treated at emergency rooms for non-fatal, near-drowning incidents. That number is up from 1,800 for 2003. Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), says that more than 40 percent of the children who receive emergency treatment also require hospitalization. Even non-fatal incidents can cause brain damage that can range from memory problems and learning disabilities to a permanent vegetative state.

"Contrary to what you might think, children drown silently. There's not a lot of splashing or crying for help," says John Drengenberg, manager of Consumer Affairs for Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL), the not-for-profit product safety testing organization. "Every second counts when preventing a drowning accident."

Drengenberg says in many drownings, children had been missing for less than five minutes. He recommends following the 10/20 rule. "The supervising adult needs to be able scan the pool within 10 seconds and reach the pool within 20 seconds," he explains.

Other UL safety tips include:

--  If a child is missing, always check the pool first.
--  Ensure the pool is in plain sight from the house.  Remove any
    vegetation or objects that obstruct a clear view to the pool.
--  Always supervise young children including those who have had swimming
    lessons.
--  Recognize that inflatable swimming aids are not safety devices.  They
    are toys and can easily puncture and deflate.
--  Remove all toys when you leave the pool.  Toys may attract children to
    the unattended pool.
--  Learn infant and child CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and ensure
    your children take swimming lessons.
--  Keep rescue devices such as life preservers at poolside.
--  Always drain wading pools after children are done playing.  Infants
    can drown in just a few inches of water.
--  Have a telephone nearby and appropriate emergency numbers posted.
    
UL safety experts also recommend erecting multiple barriers of protection between children and pools, such as:
--  Ensuring the pool is inaccessible when it is not in use.
--  Erecting a fence at least 4-foot high with a self-closing, self-
    latching gate that has a locking mechanism beyond a child's reach. The
    fence should completely separate the pool from the house and play area of
    the yard.
--  Cutting overhanging tree limbs and removing chairs or ladders from the
    area to prevent children from climbing over the fence surrounding the pool.
    For above-ground pools, remove ladders and portable steps.
--  Installing a power safety cover for an in-ground pool.
--  Installing a motion sensor and gate alarm with piercing sounds to
    alert you to anyone approaching or jumping into the pool.
    
"But barriers are no substitute for adult supervision," emphasizes Drengenberg. "We all need to be more aware and attentive whenever our families are around pools."

For more tips on summer safety, visit UL's Web site at www.ul.com/consumers.

About Underwriters Laboratories

Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) is an independent, not-for-profit product safety certification organization that has been testing products for more than 110 years. UL tests more than 19,000 types of products annually, and more than 19 billion UL Marks appear on products each year. Worldwide, the UL family of companies and its network of service providers include 58 laboratories, and testing and certification facilities. More information is available at www.ul.com.

Contact Information

  • Press Contacts:
    For more information on these and other safety tips, or to schedule an
    interview, please contact one of the following representatives:

    Stewart Reeve
    UL/Rhea & Kaiser
    636-928-0920
    stewart_reeve@rkconnect.com

    Joshua Taustein
    UL/Rhea & Kaiser
    630-955-6647
    joshua_taustein@rkconnect.com