When the Taylor family's new swimming pool was completed, the builder was about to fill it with water. But Erin, a New Jersey mother of three children—two of whom were nonswimmers—stopped him:  "Not one drop of water goes into that pool until the fence is installed," she insisted.

Erin and her husband, Jay, are painfully aware of how dangerous swimming pools can be. Jay's young cousin, Alicea, had drowned in a neighbor's unfenced above-ground swimming pool, and the preschooler's funeral was seared into their memories.

Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death to children ages 1 to 14, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • In many Sunbelt states, it's the leading cause of death.
  • Children ages 5 and younger are at the highest risk, accounting for 76 percent of all reported drowning-related fatalities.
  • The U. S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) ) found that the majority of all drownings in the 1-5 age group were associated with pools, and nearly half of those victims were last seen in the house.

"Drowning is swift and silent. There is no splashing sound or cry for help," says Kim Burgess, executive director of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. "That's why parents need to be aware of the danger and install alarms to alert them and barriers to delay a child's unsupervised access to a swimming pool, hot tub, or other backyard water feature."

Burgess adds: "Barriers can buy parents the precious time needed to recover from a brief lapse in supervision. But remember, if a child is missing, check the pool area first."

Pool Safely

The National Drowning Prevention Alliance asks everyone to reduce risk by following the Safer 3 program developed by the Swim for Life Foundation:

Safer water

  • Isolate the pool from the house and yard area by surrounding it with a fence and self-closing and self-latching gate.
  • Install door, child immersion and pool alarms and locking pool and spa covers. Several barriers provide backup in case one fails.
  • Prevent children's unsupervised access to any body of water, including natural ones, bathtubs, buckets, coolers, and toilets.

Safer kids

  • Designate a "water watcher" to ensure constant, attentive adult supervision during water recreation and at bath time.
  • Teach children water safety and swimming skills. Parents and child caregivers should also know how to swim proficiently.
  • Check the pool area or other water features first if a child is missing.

Safer response

  • Know CPR with rescue breathing.
  • Keep a phone and reaching and throwing aids near the pool.
  • Develop an emergency action plan and make sure everyone knows it.

Remember, simple steps save lives. So please, Pool Safely! For more information, visit:

Source: National Drowning Prevention Alliance