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Expert: Multiple layers of pool safety should be requirement, not option

Posted July 13

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— Every day, two children in the United States die from drowning, and another five are hospitalized.

Last weekend, a Johnston County toddler drowned in a backyard pool during a birthday party, and in Raleigh, a 5-year-old girl slipped beneath the water at an apartment complex, despite being surrounded by nearly a dozen adults.

According to experts, when children drown, it happens quickly and quietly. Often children are not physically able to splash or call for help.

"You just don't know if one person was dedicated to watch the child - you are to watch this child," said Tara Onthank, president of the association of pool and spa professional of North Carolina.

With each potential sale, Onthank says she places a brochure in the hands of every customer. The brochure outlines the multiple layers of safety, which Onthank said should not be an option, but a requirement.

"It cannot be one thing. It cannot be a door alarm, it cannot be an alarm on pool water, it can't be gates or parental supervision, it has to be multiple layers of protection," she said.

Experts say there should always be at least one dedicated adult to supervise children, a 5-foot fence for in-ground pools, and a locking ladder for above ground pools. Alarms on pool access doors and the water, an anti-entrapment drain cover, and a lock to keep dangerous pool chemicals out of children's hands are highly recommended.

Experts also caution against so-called "fast set" pop-up pools sold at big-box stores because they have very few safety features or requirements.

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