Stay water safe throughout the summer
– May 11, 2021
With the summer heat cranking up, people naturally flock to the water to stay cool. To ensure the whole family stays safe this summer, follow these tips provided by firefighters and the American Red Cross.
- Supervise – Never take your eyes off children in and around the water. Designate a responsible adult to be a “Water Watcher” while at the swimming pool, lake, or river. The designated Water Watcher should always have a phone nearby. Teach children that they should never swim alone or unsupervised. Keep children away from pool drains, pipes, and other openings to avoid entrapment. If a child is missing, look for him or her in the pool or spa first.
- Use barriers – Fences with self-closing/self-latching gates and secured doors with access alarms can prevent small children from wandering into the swimming pool or hot tub. Gates should close and lock automatically. Latches for pool access should be out of the reach of children.
- Avoid entrapments – Suction from a pool drain is so powerful it can easily trap an unsuspecting adult or child. Use protective covers to keep swimmers safe.
- Learn to swim – All family members should learn how to swim. Consider teaching children how to swim at a young age, usually around age four. Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation offers classes for people of all ages. All GCPR pools are accessible for people with disabilities and offer safe, supervised swimming places for everyone.
- Know how to respond – Learn CPR and know basic water rescue skills. Post emergency numbers by the telephone. Have water rescue equipment such as a lifesaving ring, pole, and AED near the pool deck.
- Follow the rules – Be sure to follow all posted rules. No diving in the shallow end, no pushing, and no running on the pool deck. Obey the lifeguard if one is on site.
- River safety – When visiting the Chattahoochee River, be sure to check the water generation schedule at Buford Dam by calling the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at 770.945.1466. Stay alert to changing water conditions and inclement weather. Life jackets are required to be worn by law from Buford Dam to the Highway 20 Bridge. Avoid being on the river during generation times and until the water level and current recedes to normal flow.
Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services also reminds residents of the dangers of electrical hazards around a pool or hot tub. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 33 people died of injuries caused by an electrocution in the water from swimming pools and hot tubs between 2002 and 2018. To avoid electric shock in a pool, hot tub or spa, check out these tips from the National Fire Protection Association.
- Installations – When installing a new pool, hot tub, or spa, make sure an electrician with experience and expertise is installing the wiring.
- GFCI – Ground-fault circuit interrupters are special devices designed to protect against electric shock and electrocution. They are required for most pool, spa, or hot tub equipment. They may be in the form of an outlet or a circuit breaker. Test the GFCIs monthly according to the manufacturer’s instructions
- Appliances and equipment – Keep all appliances, appliance, equipment, and cords six feet away from the water. Try to use battery operated appliances and equipment instead. Do not handle electrical devices when wet.
- Maintain distance – Make sure that any overhead lines maintain the proper distance over a pool and other structures, such as a diving board. If unsure, contact a qualified electrician or your local utility company to make sure power lines are a safe distance away.
- Consult with an expert – Consult with a qualified electrician on how to turn off all power in case of an emergency. Have a qualified electrician periodically inspect and — where necessary — replace or upgrade the electrical devices or equipment that keep your pool, spa, or hot tub electrically safe.
For additional information on swimming pool safety and preventing water-related emergencies, you can visit GwinnettSafety411.com or contact the Gwinnett Fire Community Risk Reduction Division at 678.518.4845 or FirePrograms@GwinnettCounty.com.