Your Guide to Water Safety

Hazards at Home

Any of these serious problems increase the risk that a child could drown in a pool.

A fence kids can get over, under, or through.

The safest fence is a four-sided isolation fence that's at least four to five feet high, with spacings between vertical slats that are no wider than 4 inches apart, or 1 3/4 inches apart for a lattice-work fence. A chain-link fence can be tempting for children to climb.

Tables and chairs outside the pool area.

If they're left in the backyard, kids could push them up against the fence and climb into the pool area.

An unlocked sliding door or dog door.

If your house is one side of the pool barrier, every door, window, and gate leading to the pool should be self-closing and self-latching and have an alarm that automatically resets after someone passes through. Check the devices at least once a month to make sure that they're working.

Water wings, floaties, inner tubes, noodles.

These are pool toys. If someone needs added support in the pool, use only flotation devices labeled "Coast Guard-approved."

Dangerous drain covers.

Install anti-entrapment drain covers, and find out if your pool needs a vacuum release system for the pump to limit chances that someone will be sucked under by a powerful filter.

A flimsy pool cover.

Look for a safety cover that attaches to the sides of the pool. It should be strong enough to prevent even adults from accidentally falling in.

Ropes and float lines tangled on the deck.

Without demarcations in the pool, swimmers won't know when they're in too deep -- or where it is safe for them to dive.

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