Release date: June 16, 1989
Release number: 89-052

Release Details

Many of the 330 children under five years of age who drown each year in backyard pools could be saved if homeowners completely fenced in the pool and installed self-closing and self-latching devices on gates.

The U.S. Consumer Project Safety Commission (CPSC) said child drownings are the second leading cause of accidental death around the home to children under five years of age.

A CPSC survey of home pool drownings and near-drownings in parts of three states revealed that most of these drownings occurred in a pool owned by the child's family. Almost half the children involved in the accidents were last seen in the house, presumably safe from harm, prior to being found in the pool. In three of every four of these accidents, the children were seen five minutes or less before being "missed" and subsequently discovered in the pool. While there is no substitute for supervision of children, a barrier designed to prevent them from reaching the pool, even from the house, could have prevented many of these accidents.

CPSC said that many communities do have, codes or regulations that require fences around residential pools, but may allow the house to serve as one side of the barrier However, a fence completely surrounding the pool is better, Fences should be a minimum of four feet high, although fences feet or higher are preferable.

If the home serves as one side of the barrier, all doors leading to the pool should be self-closing and have self-latching devices beyond the reach of children to prevent them from opening the door and gaining access to the pool.

Homeowners who wish to upgrade the safety of their backyard pool may obtain a free 11-page pool safety checklist from CPSC by sending a postcard to Pool Safety, Washington, D. C. 20207.