The correct steps to prevent children drowning in private swimming pools

Every year young children drown in private pools. However, with some preventive measures, many tragedies can be avoided.

While spring this year is particularly summer, some are sounding the alarm. Because if good days are often synonymous with swimming in the pool, these activities are not without risks for the little ones. In the summer of 2021, 26% of drownings involved children under 6 years old, recalls a “drowning” survey conducted by France’s public health authority. Rather, it is the age group most affected: 285 drownings, including 20 deaths.

In May, two 3-year-old children died in France after drowning in private pools. Lawrence Perrault, president of Sauve-qui-Veut, an association committed to preventing drowning in young children, recalls some safety principles that can save people.

• Securing the pool with a barrier

It’s essential: the safety barrier. “It sounds silly but it’s the first thing to do,” recalls BFMTV.com Laurence Perouème, whose 16-month-old son drowned more than twenty years ago in an unprotected pool. She and her association also campaigned for the adoption of the 2003 law requiring private swimming pools to be equipped with a safety device. Unfortunately, the law was not sufficiently enforced.

It’s a barrier, yes, but not just a barrier, she warns. Because a poorly protected pool will be worse than an unprotected pool, giving an illusion of security. Preferred, according to the head of Sauve-qui-Veut: Gated devices that have an automatic lock. Because without this device, human error is always possible.

“We leave the keys on it or just once forget to close the gate, and it’s too late. We will never leave a child in a house or a garden by a cliff or an unprotected highway, well, the swimming pool is the same.”

Regarding the installation of the alarm that would be activated in the event of a fall in the pool, “Why not”, Judge Lawrence Pirro. But it is not enough and does not prevent falls.” As for the pool cover or the automatic shutter, if you consider them to be practically effective, “they do not answer the problem,” you think. In Gironde, strict protection covered the pool in which the child accidentally fell in April , but he would have taken advantage of the moment the dome was ajar. He approached the water and fell.

“In the summer, in general, the pool remains open all day. It is very good to cover the pool in the evening, but in general, we do it at night or when the children are already asleep, not between two swimming. So it is not very useful.”

• Learn to swim early

This is Laurence Perouème’s second recommendation: that children learn to swim as soon as possible. The president of the association insists that “a child of 3 and a half or 4 years of age can learn.” She says dozens of sessions are enough. But during the epidemic, swimming lessons were canceled, which worries the representative of this association.

“How many 6 or 8 year olds still don’t know how to swim!, she worries. The main thing is not that they know how to dive or swim crawling but at least they don’t know how to do it back and reach the edge of the pool if they fall by The fault is in the water.”

Because drowning often occurs outside of bath times, when parents are home, preparing meals or looking after the rest of the siblings. In the North, a 3-year-old boy escaped the vigil of his grandparents. He went to the neighbor’s garden, and managed to climb the wooden wall of the swimming pool before falling into the water and drowning. Lawrence Byrom insists on the magic of a child’s pool.

“Once children become independent and walk, they are curious and thirsty for discovery without being aware of danger. We often underestimate their ability to explore. They say three minutes is enough, but in reality, that is much less than that. Three minutes of death or damage cannot be done. fix it.”

Parental awareness

For Laurence Perouème, it is essential to be aware of the danger that a swimming pool poses to a child who does not know how to swim. “The key is to raise awareness among as many people as possible. No parent is immune to a moment of inattention, and no parent is infallible.”

She evokes the tragedy experienced by a member of her association. This father was with his son in a private club pool. After swimming, he pulled the child out of the water, took off his arm bands, turned his back on him to look for a towel, and when he turned, it was too late. Yet the child was right next to him.

“The discourse we hear is: ‘Parents should only watch their children.’ But we don’t realize how fast it’s going. It only takes a moment, we turn our heads, we answer the phone, we take our eyes off a child for a few seconds, or the father thinks that the child with The mother and the mother thinks it’s with the father and that’s it. Sometimes kids cut themselves, burn themselves with the oven door, and hurt themselves, it’s impossible to supervise them 24 hours a day, but it’s not serious. It’s that he doesn’t forgive.”

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