Swimming pools are one of the most treasured, enjoyable activities for many families around the world. Unfortunately, accidental drowning in swimming pools happen frequently. Pool safety is a concern for anyone who wants  to enjoy water and relax in a pool. Despite many prevention efforts over decades, accidental drowning still accounts for over 7,000 deaths in the United States every year, and a staggering 375,000 deaths worldwide. Children between the ages of one and four are at greatest risk — drowning is the major cause of death in this age group, after birth defects.  

Watch over children who can drown silently in less than three minutes in eight inches of water.

Even if you are a good swimmer, pools can be deadly; you could have a heart attack, a seizure, a blood clot, or some other medical emergency; this is why it is recommended to never swim alone. According to the National Safety Council, No person is immune to drowning, even after extensive swimming lessons.

What is drowning

The two primary causes of “drowning” are inhalation of water into the lungs and cold water shock, also called hydrocution, where the normally warm blood vessels contract suddenly as ice-cold water engulfs the body, leading to cardiac arrest.

According to statistics adult men, young people and small children are most at risk of drowning in private pools. 

Also keep in mind that the risk of drowning is greatly increased for people with epilepsy.


What to do to prevent drowning in a private pool

For drowning prevention purposes, you should first fence and secure the swimming pool. Most municipalities require a perimeter fence around a yard with a swimming pool – be sure the doors close and latch automatically and are secured.  For more information about how keeping your home pool safe, we recommend you visit www.poolsafely.gov.

Second, you and your children must learn how to swim, especially if you have a pool or spa in your backyard or neighborhood.  After you and your children know how to swim, watch them while they are in to the pool or near the water, because emergencies in water develop quickly, in terms of one or two minutes. 

After that you need to follow several basic safety rules, like not swimming in freezing water, not drinking alcohol, taking time to digest food to avoid cramps, closely watching the swimmers you are in charge of, etc. And, of course, no swimming when lightning is in the area, because you are exposed to electrocution. 

What to do in case of drowning

In case of drowning, you should immediately call emergency medical services (911), after removing the person from the water. The sooner the victim is removed from the water, the faster the person can get oxygen into the lungs, which improves the chances of survival. Then follow all the instructions of the medical services.

If your child accidentally inhales a large quantity of water, be aware of the condition called “dry drowning,” also called secondary drowning, can cause death. It is actually possible to drown outside of the pool, one to 24 hours after inhaling water — even up to a week after, as happened to a four year old boy in 2017.

Remember that most swimming pool accidents take place outside of regular swimming times. As homicide cleanup professionals, we call for vigilance and we are proactive about avoiding these incidents entirely. It’s important to realize the dangers surrounding you, particularly while having young children around the pool.


– by Aline Martin O’Brien