Most shallow water pools in the US are just too deep. We have a discerning depth in the United States that doesn’t make much safety sense: Five Feet. Swimming pool water is considered to be shallow when it is less than five feet while deep water is defined as any depth greater than five feet. Consider that the average American child does not reach a height of five feet until they are 12 years old. That places a significant number of young children at the risk of drowning in our “safe” shallow water pools. The Redwoods Group which insures YMCAs and JCCs found that most of the drownings they investigated occurred in less than four feet of water. In reviewing lawsuits involving young children, we found many non-swimmers drowning while following friends or family from zero depth, beach like entries into water over their heads. As a result, in our Aquatic Risk Management (ARM) Courses we suggest adding additional lifelines, when possible, at shallower depths, especially for facilities with beach-like entries. We recently made this recommendation during an ARM in Northern Virginia. Sandra Kellogg took our suggestion to heart and explains, “I took a good look at my pool and put a safety line across the bottom of our beach area, it’s a 4 foot span at 3 feet deep, and it has made a huge difference! No more bobbers or hand-over-handers heading into the deeper water. Funny how you can look at a facility every day for 5 years and not see something that simple”.  If you have a shallow water area that you can make safer by adding a lifeline, try it. It’s both effective and affordable. Better yet, use colored wristbands or necklaces to identify who can swim where, and while you’re at it, don’t forget to Note & Float your non-swimmers!

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