In 2000, the Florida legislature found that drowning was the leading cause of death for young children and it mandated that all new Florida pools, spas and hot tubs be equipped with at least one pool safety feature.
The Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act requires safety measures for pools built after Oct. 1, 2000. It includes devices such as covers, barriers, enclosures, self closing doors, and/or alarms. Links to see the laws are below. These laws relate to new installs, but heed these warnings with your pool if you can.
Like so many dangers in life, prevention is key. Teach your kids to swim and supervise kids in your pool. A summer pool party is no problem. Look the pool-party parent in the eye and ask if they plan to follow Florida laws on pool safety. I’ve stayed at parties in the past because it didn’t appear my little ones would be watched close enough for my liking. An Internet search for swim schools turns up plenty of hits here in South Florida.
Find a good PowerPoint presentation showing diagrams and pool enclosure specifics at http://www.miamidade.gov/building/library/presentations/pool-barriers.pdf. A great website showing the 3 layers of pool protection you should strive for is at Waterprooffl.com. It says supervision, barriers and emergency preparedness are what we must have.
I’d like to add one more thought to the water safety conversation. Please empower your kids to “just say no” if pressured to swim. You’ve got to do it. Look them in the eye and remind them they have the power to say no in these tough situations.
A police officer’s son that we pulled from the bottom of a Cutler Bay lake last year left some of my teary-eyed coworkers unable to speak.
Too many MDFR stories have families wishing they could go back in time and just say no. Please help us out and take pool time and swimming seriously. There are many things in life we can flex. Stayin’ safe near the water isn’t one.
Capt. Jack Swerdloff is a South Dade EMS Supervisor with the Miami Dade Firefighters. He is a frequent contributor to this newspaper and be contacted at email@example.com.