A refreshing pool on a hot day can be so inviting. Children of all ages enjoy splashing in the cool waters in private home-based pools, swim clubs, health clubs, country clubs and public pools.
With this fun comes great responsibility. To make sure everyone leaves the pool happy and healthy, pool owners and operators should take steps to prevent injury and drowning.
Television and movies often show drowning as a dramatic event with victims thrashing and calling for help or lifeguards springing into action for the save.
While these instances can occur, drownings often are silent and difficult to see. They can occur in shallow water or even after a person has left the pool.
Water clarity is an important component of proper life safety in the pool. A lifeguard, parent or counselor cannot see someone in need of help as easily if the water is cloudy and murky. Having lots of people in the pool also can affect water clarity, emphasizing the need for proper chemical balance and additional lifesaving staff. Lifeguards must stay alert, taking breaks in rotation while following protocols at all times.
Some signs to look for to identify a potential drowning victim in the water may include:
- Head low in water with mouth at water level
- Head tilted back with mouth open
- Glassy or empty eyes
- Failure to kick or move legs while in a vertical position in the water
- Trying to swim with no headway
Remember, too, that drowning doesn’t always happen in the deep end. Shallow water blackout results when an individual holds his or her breath for too long. Younger swimmers can drown in much shallower water. A person can drown in as little as 2-3 inches of water in less than 30 seconds.
Dry or delayed drowning is another scary and potentially fatal phenomenon that can occur long after an incident in the pool. Symptoms can include:
- Chest pain
- Trouble breathing
- Feeling extremely tired/change in energy level or increase in irritability
A more detailed description is available at healthychildren.org.
With proper supervision and awareness, pool owners and operators can prevent a tragedy from occurring and help everyone to enjoy their time at the pool!
This loss control information is advisory only. The authors assume no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article.