ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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Standards and Guidelines Promote Pool Safety this Summer


New York, Jul 13, 2006

With summer vacation in full swing and temperatures soaring, swimming pools are likely to be a main source of entertainment for millions of children this summer. As the swimming season takes hold, parents and guardians are urged to keep the safety of small children in mind. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), drowning is a leading cause of death to young children; an estimated 350 children under the age of five drown in swimming pools each year. To help prevent these tragedies, the CPSC promotes the use of multiple precautionary measures and offers parents and guardians the following guidelines:
  • Watch your child closely at all times. Make sure doors leading to the pool area are closed and locked.

  • Fences and walls should be at least 4 feet high and installed completely around the pool. Fence gates should be self-closing and self-latching. The latch should be out of a small child's reach.

  • If your house forms one side of the barrier to the pool, then doors leading from the house to the pool should be protected with alarms that produce a sound when a door is unexpectedly opened.

  • A power safety cover—a motor-powered barrier that can be placed over the water area—can be used when the pool is not in use.

  • Keep rescue equipment by the pool and be sure a portable 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.

  • Pool alarms can be used as an added precaution. Underwater pool alarms generally perform better and can be used in conjunction with pool covers. CPSC advises that consumers use remote alarm receivers so the alarm can be heard inside the house or in other places away from the pool area.

ASTM International, a member and accredited standards developer of the American National Standards Institute, has developed a number of pool safety standards specifically designed to reduce the incidence of injury or death to young children. ASTM F2518-06, Standard Guide for Use of a Residential Swimming Pool, Spa, and Hot Tub Safety Audit to Prevent Unintentional Drowning, details a safety audit system to evaluate the overall safety of residential pools, spas, and hot tubs. The standard applies a “layers-of-protection” approach to safety which involves using multiple security measures. Such measures may include the combined use of perimeter fences, pool covers, sensor alarms, rope and float lines, rescue equipment, and other safety devices.

When correctly installed and used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions, safety covers are an effective means of preventing young children from entering a pool unattended. ASTM F1346-91(2003), Standard Performance Specification for Safety Covers and Labeling Requirements for All Covers for Swimming Pools, Spas and Hot Tubs, specifies requirements to ensure the proper performance of these important safety devices. The document applies to both manually and power-operated covers used in pools, spas, or hot tubs. ASTM F1346 also specifies marking requirements for all covers.

Infrared pool alarms are a high-tech safety option available to consumers. Placed in the water around the edge of the pool, these devices sound alarms when water disturbance is sensed. ASTM F2208-02e1, Standard Specification for Pool Alarms, defines safety and performance requirements for devices specifically designed to detect and signal the entry of a child one year of age or older into a pool or spa.

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