KING COUNTY, WASHINGTON - Backyard pools and spas are the most common site for drowning of small children, but a recent Washington State code update requires homes with pools and spas to have proper barriers for children.
"The new regulation aims to save lives. The first step to having fun in backyard pools and spas is to install the necessary barriers to protect small children and prevent drownings," said Dr. David Fleming, Director and Health Officer for Public Health Seattle & King County.
Every year in the United States an average of 283 children under age five drown in pools or spas, and 2,700 children are treated in emergency rooms following pool and spa submersions. In Washington State, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children.
"It is important that homes with swimming pools now must have the same level of protection from drowning as public pools where complete fencing is required," said Dr. Linda Quan, Seattle Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center. "Adequate fencing prevents drowning and death of young children who wander into the backyard and fall into the pool."
Beginning July of last year, all new private pools and spas in Washington must have barriers. This includes aboveground pools that are more than 24 inches deep. The regulation applies only to new pools and spas, but these safer standards are recommended for older pools and spas as well.
Prevent a tragedy
In 2005, the White family of Auburn lost a two-year-old daughter, Paris, in a tragic drowning. "I wish I could convey the pain and heartache we have suffered these past three years. Paris was out of sight for only a few minutes. You can never be too careful," said mother Deanna White. "We want to convince every family in Washington to take all the precautions and obey the new laws."
With funding from Safe Kids USA, Public Health Seattle & King County is collaborating with members of the Washington State Building Code Council, the Washington Association of Building Officials, local area building inspectors, representatives from the pool and spa industry, and the Statewide Drowning Prevention Network to spread the message about codes and ensure enforcement for new pools and spas.
Providing effective and innovative health and disease prevention services for over 1.8 million residents and visitors of King County, Public Health Seattle & King County works for safer and healthier communities for everyone, every day.