The City of Longview reminds residents to inspect and maintain swimming pool/spa barriers
The City of Longview would like to remind pool, spa and pond owners about the importance of inspecting and maintaining barriers. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, nationwide from 2005-2007 there was an annual average of 385 pool and spa-related drownings for children younger than 15; 299 of these children were younger than five years old. Another 4,200 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year for near-drowning incidents. Most of these cases involved residential pools.
Many people assume that drownings at residences with a pools occurs only when the family is outside or using the pool. However, most drownings happen when young children leave the house without a parent or caregiver realizing it. This can also include children from the neighboring homes. Children are drawn to water, and they don’t understand the danger pools can pose.
"Drowning happens quickly and silently, often without any splashing or screaming," said Code Compliance Manager Gregory Hannon. "It can occur in just the couple of minutes it takes to answer the telephone. In our community in the last two years there were 3 drownings that involved young children and residential above ground pools.”
The key to preventing these tragedies is to have “layers” of protection. Your greatest water safety assurance comes from adopting and practicing as many water safety measures as possible, including: approved barriers that completely surround the pool with self-closing, self-latching gates; staying close, being alert, and watching children at the pool; learning and practicing water safety skills (knowing how to swim and perform CPR); and having the appropriate equipment (compliant drain covers, alarms, barriers and sensors).
Code requirements for residential pools and spas have been in effect since July 2007. The City of Longview Community Development Department offers the following information to pool owners in an effort to prevent drownings and to help you comply with state law:
• Fences and/or walls are required around all in-ground swimming pools and spas and above-ground pools and spas with a water depth of 24 inches or more. These barriers must be at least four feet (48”) in height and installed completely around the pool/spa. Fence gates must be self-closing and self-latching. The latch must be out of a small child's reach. (The City of Longview building code restricts fence height to no more than 42 inches in the front yard, eliminating the placement of most pools in that area.)
• If your house forms one side of the barrier to the pool, then doors leading from the house to the pool must be protected with alarms that produce an 85 decibel sound when a door is unexpectedly opened.
• Stay close, be alert, and watch children at all times while at the pool.
• Keep rescue equipment by the pool, and be sure a phone is poolside with emergency numbers posted. Knowing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can be a lifesaver.
• For above-ground pools, steps and ladders to the pool should be secured and locked, or removed when the pool is not in use.
• If a child is missing, always look in the pool first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
Questions about pool and spa enclosure requirements may be directed to the Code Compliance Division at 442-5093 Monday through Thursday between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.