Proper steps to prevent a child from drowning in a private swimming pool

Every year young children drown in private swimming pools. However, with some preventive action, many tragedies can be avoided.

Although this year, spring especially summer, some are sounding the alarm. Because if beautiful days are often synonymous with swimming in the pool, these activities are not without risks for the younger ones. In the summer of 2021, about 26% of children under the age of 6 were drowned, recalling a Public Health France “drowning” survey. This is even the most affected age category: 285 drownings, including 20 deaths.

This May, two 3-year-old children drowned in a private pool in France. Lawrence Perouème, president of Sauve-qui-Veut, an association committed to preventing young children from drowning, recalled some safety policies that could save lives.

Secure the pool with a barrier

This is an essential: security barrier. “It sounds silly but this is the first time,” reminds Lawrence Peruem, whose 16-month-old son drowned in an unprotected swimming pool more than 20 years ago. He and his association have been campaigning for the passage of the 2003 law that requires private pools to be equipped with a safety device. “But unfortunately the law is not adequately enforced.”

An obstacle, yes, but not just an obstacle, he warns. Because a poorly protected swimming pool will be worse than an unprotected swimming pool, which gives a false sense of security. According to the president of Sauve-qui-Veut, the choice could be made: a device with a gate that has an automatic lock. Because without this device human error is always possible.

“Whether we leave the key in it or forget to close the gate once, and it’s too late. We’ll never leave a child in a house or garden on a hillside or on a highway without protection, the good pool is the same.”

About installing an alarm that is activated in case of falling into the pool, “why not”, Judge Lawrence Peruim. “But it’s inadequate and it doesn’t stop the fall.” For pool covers or automatic roller shutters, if in reality he thinks they are effective, “they do not answer the problem”, he believes. In Gironde, a strict protection covered the swimming pool where the child accidentally fell in April, but he could take advantage of a moment when the dome was open. He fell into the water.

“In summer, in general, the pool is open all day. In the evening it is best to cover the pool, but in general, we do it at night or when the children are already asleep, not between two swimmers. So it is not. Very useful.”

Learn to swim early

This is Lawrence Peruv’s second recommendation: Children learn to swim as quickly as possible. “From 3 and a half or 4 years old, a child can learn”, stressed the president of the association. A dozen sessions is enough, he says. During the epidemic, however, swimming lessons were canceled, which worried the association’s representatives.

“How many 6- or even 8-year-olds still do not know how to swim !, he worries. The point is not that they know how to dive or crawl, but they at least know how to get up. Reaches the back and the edge of the pool. “

This is because drowning often occurs outside of bath time, when parents are at home, preparing food, or taking care of the rest of the siblings. In reply, a 3-year-old boy thus escaped the surveillance of his grandparents. He went to the neighbors’ garden, was able to climb the wooden wall of the swimming pool before falling into the water. Lawrence Peruem emphasizes the fascination that a swimming pool has over a child.

“As soon as children are free and walk, they become curious and thirsty for discovery without being aware of the danger. We too often underestimate their ability to search. They say three minutes is enough, but in reality, it is much less. Three minutes is death.” Or irreversible damage. “

Parental awareness

For Laurence Perouème, it is important for a child who does not know how to swim to be aware of the dangers that a swimming pool represents. “The key is to raise awareness among people as much as possible. No parent is free from a moment of inattention, no parent is innocent.”

He evoked the tragedy experienced by a member of his association. The father was in the swimming pool of a private club with his son. After swimming, he lifted the baby out of the water, untied his arm, turned to face him to find the towel, and when he turned around, it was too late. But the baby was by her side.

“The speech we hear is: ‘Parents only need to see their children.’ But we don’t realize how fast it goes. It only takes a moment, we turn our heads, we answer the phone, we take our eyes off. The child for a few seconds, otherwise the father thinks the child is with the mother and the mother thinks she is with the father and that is it. Hours, but it’s not serious that it doesn’t forgive. “

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