Pool Safety

Drowning Facts

  • Drowning is the second leading cause of injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14 years old in the United States.
  • Among children ages 1 to 4 years old, most drownings occur in residential swimming pools. Most of these young children were last seen in the home, had been out of sight less than 5 minutes, and were in the care of one or both parents at the time.
  • Those who own pools or spas are required to meet state and local regulations to prevent drowning.


  • Never take your eyes off children in the water – not even for a minute! Parents may think they'll hear splashing and screaming when a child is in trouble, but when a child drowns, it usually happens quickly and silently.
  • Don't allow a young child in the pool without an adult.
  • Knowing how to swim doesn't make a child drown-proof. Never use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision.
  • If a child is missing, check the pool first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.

Install Barriers at Home Pools

  • A barrier, such as a fence that is at least 4 feet high, must surround the pool or spa. The gate or door must be self-closing and self-latching with the latch out of a child's reach. If the house serves as one side of the barrier, there must be an alarm on doors that have direct access to the pool.
  • For above-ground and inflatable pools with ladders, remove or secure the ladder when the pool is not in use. Learn more at King County's Above Ground Residential Pool Information (PDF).
  • A power safety pool cover or safety cover for spas is another barrier option. The safety cover must meet ASTM standard F1346-91. If the safety cover meets standards, additional barriers, such as fencing, may be optional - check with your local city or county building department.

Avoid Entrapments

  • Don't play or swim near drains or suction outlets, especially in spas and shallow pools.
  • Keep long hair away from suction drains by using hair braids, bands, or swim caps.
  • Never enter a pool or spa that has a loose, broken, or missing drain cover.
  • Know where the electrical cut-off switch for the pool or spa pump is and mark it for quick turnoff.
  • If someone is entrapped against a drain, cut-off the power to the pump immediately. Instead of trying to pull the person away from the powerful suction, pry a hand between the drain and the person's body to break the seal.
  • Have a professional regularly inspect your home pool or spa for entrapment hazards. We suggest seeking companies that have certifications through the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals or the Independent Pool and Spa Service Association. Ask your pool professional if your pool or spa's drains are compliant with the Pool and Spa Safety Act. If they're not, find out what options you can take to prevent entrapment from drains.

Know Life-Saving Skills

  • Learn how to swim and teach your children how to swim.
  • Know CPR so you can help save a life if a water emergency happens.
  • Understand the basics of life-saving so you can assist in an emergency.
  • Keep rescue equipment and a phone near the pool. Call 911 in an emergency.

Follow Pool Rules

  • Public pools, such as gyms, hotels, and schools, are required to post signs stating pool rules. If you have your own pool at home, create your own rules. Important rules to follow include:
    • Kids only go in the pool with adult supervision.
    • No running or rough play around the pool.
    • No swimming alone.
    • In an emergency, call 911.

Germs and Illnesses

  • Prevent gastrointestinal illness and skin irritations from pool and spas by not swallowing the water, maintaining proper disinfection levels (such as 1-2 ppm of free chlorine), and not allowing people with diarrhea to swim until 2 weeks after their symptoms are gone. Learn more about recreational water illnesses.

Avoid Injuries and Accidents

  • Don't run on the pool deck and avoid rough play.
  • Don't dive into water less than nine feet deep. Dive only from the end where the diving board is located. Avoid multiple bounces on the diving board and wait until the previous diver is out of the way. Dive with your hands in front of you and always steer up immediately upon entering the water to avoid hitting the bottom or the side of the pool.
  • Go down pool slides feet first, not head first.
  • Keep pool chemicals in a locked and secure storage area.
  • Remove toys from in and around the pool when it is not in use. Toys can attract young children to the pool.

More Resources

Pool Safely, CPSC

Healthy Swimming, CDC

Drowning Data from Washington State (PDF)

Resources for Regulated Pool and Water Recreation Facilities

Content Source: Water Recreation Program