Although preventable, each year, the incidence of drownings increases during the summer months, which means that at this time of year, it is more essential than ever to review water safety information. Drowning continues to be the leading cause of death among children ages five and under and the second leading cause among children under fourteen. To ensure residents are equipped with the necessary information to prevent these preventable tragedies, the City of Yorba Linda is partnering with Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) to provide drowning prevention information.
Preventing Child Drownings
Since children can drown within 20 seconds and in as little as two inches of water, adults should identify any source of water which could pose a drowning risk. In addition to pools, spas, lakes, or the ocean, this includes bathtubs, kiddie pools, and containers of water found around the house. In addition to learning how to swim, children should be taught at a young age to observe the following safety behaviors in and around the water:
Children should ask an adult before going in or around the pool.
Play Safely Around the Water
Running, jumping, or pushing others in and around the pool can be dangerous. Children should be taught to walk carefully around pool decks. An adult should retrieve toys or other objects from the water.
Don't Rely on Swimming Aids
Swimming aids such as water wings, noodles, or rafts are fun to use in the pool but are not a substitute for knowing how to swim.
Go Feet First
Rocks, sandbars, and other dangers can hide just below the water's surface. Going feet first helps to find these dangers and allows children to know how deep the water is in that area.
Don't Let Drains Drag You Down
Drains can create a lot of suction, which can trap people underwater. Children should learn to stay away from pool drains and proper drain covers should be installed.
Preventing Adult Drownings
Adults ages 50 and older account for more than half of drownings each year. In adults, drownings are often the result of a medical emergency such as a stroke, heart attack, low blood sugar, or dizziness. OCFA advises adults to never swim alone, even at home.
Know the ABCs of Water Safety
Knowing the "ABCs of Water Safety" can help you remember the vital steps in preventing water-related injuries or death. These steps include the following best practices:
A is for Active Adult Supervision
"Active Adult Supervision" means that children are always within the eyesight and reach of the person responsible for their safety. Even when visiting a public pool or beach with a lifeguard(s), an adult should be the designated "Water Watcher." The "Water Watcher":
- Watches the water at all times;
- Avoids social activities, phone calls, reading, cooking, and other distracting activities;
- Knows how to swim; and
- Is clear-headed and not consuming alcohol.
B is for Barriers
Backyard pools should be isolated from the home and play area through the use of barriers including:
- Self-closing, self-latching gates which open outward away from the pool; and
- Multiple-level barriers, including pool safety covers, motion detectors near the pool, pool gate alarms, and door and window alarms to notify adults when a child goes outside.
C is for Classes
All children and adults should learn how to swim. Adults should learn CPR, first aid, and rescue techniques. The City of Yorba Linda offers summer swim lessons, as well as CPR and First Aid courses. Resources for CPR and First Aid classes are also available on the American Red Cross website.
Pool Safety Act
To reduce the incidence of drownings in California, the Pool Safety Act went into effect in January 2018. This law applies to any newly constructed or remodeled pool or spa at a private, single-family home. Under the new law, before final building permits are issued, the local building code official must confirm that the new or remodeled pool or spa has at least two of the seven drowning prevention safety features listed below:
- An enclosure that meets the requirements and isolates the swimming pool or spa from the home;
- Removable mesh fencing that meets specifications in conjunction with a self-latching, self-closing gate and can accommodate a key-lockable device;
- An approved safety cover;
- Exit alarms on the home's door that provides direct access to the swimming pool or spa;
- A self-closing, self-latching device with a release mechanism placed at least 54 inches above the floor on the home's door providing direct access to the pool or spa;
- An authorized alarm placed in the swimming pool or spa that will sound upon detection of accidental or unauthorized entrance into the water; or
- Any other means of protection if the protection is determined to be equal or greater than the previous features.
City of Yorba Linda Pool & Spa Registry
Complete the Pool and Spa Registry Form to be added to the City's Pool and Spa Registry to receive future updates on pool safety initiatives, building code updates, drowning prevention tips, and more.
OCFA provides a variety of publications on the topic of drowning prevention, which can be accessed below. For additional information, please contact OCFA at 714-573-6200 or visit the OCFA website.