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State Fire Marshal Rivera encourages pool safety this summer

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (July 21, 2023) – The number of residential pools has increased over recent years raising the risk for accidental drownings. Homeowners and parents need to be extra vigilant to protect kids who have access to the water. Children younger than 5 account for 91% of drowning fatalities in home pools or hot tubs.

“Parents should put down their phones, books, or other items that could take their attention away when children are in or around the water. It only takes a few seconds for an accident to occur,” said Illinois State Fire Marshal James A. Rivera. “I encourage parents to enroll their children in swimming lessons and have conversations with children about not entering a pool without permission.”

According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), child drownings continue to be the leading cause of death among children ages 1 to 4 years old. Every year in the United States there are an estimated 4,000 fatal unintentional drownings — an average of 11 drowning deaths per day. An additional 8,000 nonfatal drownings occur each year — an average of 22 nonfatal drownings per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Statistics from the American Red Cross show a four-sided isolation fence (separating the pool area from the house and yard) reduces a child’s risk of drowning 83% compared to three-sided property-line fencing.

Pool chemicals, like chlorine, are needed to protect swimmers’ health. However, mishandling pool chemicals can cause serious injuries. Pool chemical injuries lead to about 4,500 U.S. emergency department visits each year, and over one-third of these preventable injuries are in children or teens.

Some simple steps can keep children safer in and around the water:

  • Install a four-sided fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate around all pools and spas.
  • Check to make sure the gate is locked or closed when leaving the pool or spas.
  • Keep the pool and deck clear of floats, balls, and toys after leaving the pool.
  • Always ensure children swim with an adult or buddy.
  • Designate an adult Water Watcher to supervise children at all times around the water. That person should be advised to put phone and books away and pay attention to whoever is in or around the water.
  • Never leave a child unattended in or near water.
  • Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim.
  • Learn how to perform CPR on children and adults.
  • Teach children to stay away from pool drains, pipes, and other openings to avoid entrapments.
  • Ensure any pool or spa has drain covers that comply with federal safety standards. If you are unsure, ask your pool service provider about safer drain covers.
  • If you are installing a new pool, hot tub, or spa, be sure the wiring is performed by an electrician experienced in the special safety requirements for these types of installations.
  • Install door alarms and locks that are out of the reach of a child on all doors and windows with direct access to the pool or spa area
  • For above-ground pools, secure, lock or remove steps, ladders, and anything that can be used for access (such as outdoor furniture and toys) whenever the pool is not being actively supervised by an adult.
  • Empty or flip over inflatable pools when you are finished using them for the day.
  • Take the Pool Safety Pledge by visiting:
Illinois State Fire Marshal (ISFM)
Illinois State Fire Marshal (ISFM)
The State Fire Marshal's Office distributes information intended to protect life and property from fire and explosions. In the interest of community safety, The Lansing Journal shares this information with our readers.