By Alison Osinski, Ph.D.

Alison Osinski is currently the principal-owner of Aquatic Consulting Services, located in San Diego, California, specializing in aquatic risk management, and aquatic facility design, management and operation. Services include: site inspections, pool design and renovation projects, staff screening and selection, lifeguard audits, expert testimony, equipment specification and testing, pool operator training and certification courses, and water quality analysis. Clients include: health and fitness organizations, schools and universities, social service agencies, therapeutic facilities, water parks and community aquatic leisure centers, amusement parks, swim schools, military bases, camps, zoos, resorts, attorneys, architectural and engineering firms, aquatic agencies and foundations, homeowners, manufacturers of aquatic related products, and municipal park and recreation and safety management departments

Many residential pool owners with young children or grandchildren have justifiable concerns about pool safety issues. Homeowners can help thwart pediatric submersion accidents and most serious pool related injuries by closely supervising children when they are in the pool, and by preventing young children from gaining access to the pool when they, or other adults are not present. A few common sense safety tips can help alleviate your fears.

  • Supervise children at all times when they're around the water. Never leave children unattended in the pool for even just a few minutes. Never!
  • Designate a specific person to be the pool supervisor. Don't just assume someone is watching the kids.
  • Keep a portable telephone by the pool to call for help in emergencies.
  • Do not leave children unattended in or around the pool for even just a few minutes to answer the door or the phone. Let the doorbell or phone ring. If it's important they'll call back.
  • Install and properly maintain a multiple barrier system. Barriers include: fences, gates, pool safety covers, pool and deck alarms, and resettable alarms which can be installed on sliding doors and windows which open to the pool area.
  • Make sure that children cannot climb your fence and that there are no holes or spaces in the fence where children could slip through.
  • Make sure gates open away from the pool, and self-close and positively self-latch from any open position. Gates should be locked when the pool is not in use.
  • Teach your children to swim, and to enjoy, but respect the water.
  • Don't rely on flotation devices or toys to keep a child afloat.
  • Purchase rescue equipment and have it available for immediate use near the pool. Learn basic rescue skills.
  • Teach your children good water safety habits. Post and enforce your pool rules.
  • Don't allow the pool to be used if: water clarity is poor, electrical storms are in the area, main drain grates are broken or missing, or the pool cover has not been completely removed from the surface of the pool.
  • Keep toys, tricycles and other items attractive to children away from the pool when it's not in use.
  • Learn what to do in an emergency. Enroll in a first aid and CPR course.

It is extremely important that an aquatic professional be able to recognize an emergency situation in progress. Patrons may be in distress or drowning, suffering a medical emergency, or may be injured and in need of assistance, rescue, first aid or emergency medical treatment.