Annapolis, MD (May 25, 2007) - County Executive John R. Leopold has joined with Fire Chief David L. Stokes and Health Officer Frances B. Phillips to remind residents to “think safety” when using swimming pools. Memorial Day weekend is the time when area pools open their gates. Nationally, approximately 300 children under age five die and 2,000 more children under age five visit hospital emergency rooms for submersion injuries every year. From 2001 to 2005, Anne Arundel County Emergency Medical Services responded to 32 drowning and near-drowning incidents.
“Although swimming pools can be a tremendous source of enjoyment for young and old, they can also be dangerous,” said County Executive Leopold. “I encourage everyone to spread the word about pool safety with the goal of reducing this summer’s water-related injuries and deaths.”
The County Department of Health licenses all public pools, pool operators and lifeguards. Ms. Phillips said, “The Department of Health wants swimming at public pools to be a fun, healthy and safe experience. We encourage all residents to prepare for swimming and water-related activities with appropriate training. Learn to swim and teach your child to swim, but never rely solely on swimming lessons to protect someone from drowning. Children in and around water need constant, close supervision by an adult. Even older children should always swim with a friend or adult.”
Ms. Phillips added, “Parents, grandparents, babysitters and others who take care of children should know CPR. Our Website has information on water safety and resources for swimming lessons and CPR classes.”
Chief Stokes and the County Fire Department offer the following pool safety tips:
- Ensure that there is an approved fence/barrier completely surrounding the pool. If the house is a part of the barrier, the exterior doors leading to the pool area should be protected with an alarm. The fence should be at least 4 feet high, with no foot or handholds, and no diamond-shaped openings larger than 1 ¾ inches. Fences using vertical slats should have slats spaced less than 4 inches apart to prevent a child from squeezing through.
- Gates in the fence should be self-closing, self-latching and with the mechanism out of the reach of children. Pool gates should never be propped open for any reason.
- Make sure steps or ladders leading to an aboveground pool are secured, locked or removed when the pool is not in use.
- Completely remove pool covers when the pool is in use; always remove standing water from the cover.
- Never leave young children alone in or around a pool, not even for a moment. An adult should always supervise them. Adults that supervise children should be instructed and familiar with potential hazards, both common and unique to the pool. Never rely on flotation devices or swimming lessons to take the place of adult supervision.
- Keep a telephone at poolside, with emergency numbers posted near the phone.
- Parents, guardians and babysitters who know CPR need not wait for emergency personnel and should institute CPR or mouth-to-mouth resuscitation immediately.
- Only dive from the end of the diving board, not the side or shallow ends, and the diver should steer up immediately after entering the water. Never dive into an aboveground pool because it is too shallow.
- People using poolside sliding boards should always slide feet first, avoiding the risk of suffering head and neck injuries from striking the bottom of the pool headfirst.
- Remove toys and flotation devices from pool when not in use. These objects are often attractive to non-swimmers.
- Consumption of alcohol and swimming/diving is not a good combination. Be safe: Don’t drink and dive.
For more information about pool safety, visit the Fire Department’s Website at and the Department of Health’s Website. County residents can also call the Department of Health’s Learn To Live Line at (410) 222-7979 to request a free “Playing It Safe” brochure.