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Lose your swimming pool's diving board, build a four-foot high barrier around the pool, install alarms, add a motorized safety cover and make sure your homeowners insurance policy -- specifically for swimming pool accidents -- has a liability coverage that is no less than $1 million.

That's just for starters.

If you have a swimming pool on your property, you have your work cut out for you to make sure everyone in the household and guests have good safe fun, says the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The commission is about to update its swimming pool safety recommendations, but you needn't wait until the final draft is in.

By then, it could be too late.

A child can drown in less than five minutes, in two inches of water and not make a sound.

The safety commission says there is no appliance, device or gadget that comes near the potential of a swimming pool for personal, financial and legal disaster.

As part of its efforts to reduce the rate of child drownings, and deaths and injuries due to pool-related mishaps, the commission is also holding hearings this summer on pool and spa safety. Its goal is to reduce the rate of drownings of children under age 5 by 10 percent over the next 10 years.

An average of about 250 children under age 5 drowned annually in recently years in swimming pools nationwide. One is too many.

CPSC encourages pool owners to build in layers of protection, including a surrounding barrier, a pool cover and alarms and provide constant eye-contact supervision for young children.

"Campaigns like these remind pool owners of how critical the basics are to pool safety," commission chairman Hal Stratton said.

Don't be under the misguided assumption that the danger of drowning occurs only when the family is outside, using the pool. A common scenario takes place when young children leave the house without a parent or guardian realizing it. Not knowing what terrible danger lurks, children are drawn to water and its shimmering reflections and soothing motion. Likewise, never leave swimming toys in the pool. They are too inviting for a young child. Insist that adult guests supervise their children at all times.

"An earlier CPSC study showed that almost 70 percent of the young victims were not expected to be in or even around the pool. Close supervision and barriers are paramount in keeping young children safe."

Here's more advice from the commission. Heed it.

  • Despite what your local building codes may or may not require, put a fence or wall around your pool. It should be at least four feet high and installed completely around the pool. Gates should be self-closing and self-latching. The latch should be out of a small child's reach. If your home forms one side of the barrier to the pool, doors leading from the house to the pool should be protected with alarms.
  • For above-ground pools, steps and ladders to the pool should be secured and locked, or removed when the pool is not in use.
  • Install a power safety cover and always use it when the pool is not in use. The covers also help prevent evaporation, they help keep heated pools warm and they help cut down on cleaning maintenance.
  • Keep rescue equipment by the pool including life preserver and reaching pole or other device. Also keep a phone poolside. Keep essential life saving gear accessible, visible, and in proper working condition.
  • Remove the diving board from your private backyard pool. The risk of injury is too great. Everyone should walk, not run around the pool. Avoid pushing, shoving and horseplay in or around the pool.
  • Use pool alarms as another layer of protection. Include remote alarm receivers so the alarm can be heard inside the house or in other places away from the pool area.
  • If a child is missing, look in the pool first. You may have only seconds to save a child's life.
  • Recognize your legal responsibility to provide a safe environment for children and adults alike. Be proactive in preventing accidents. All family members should learn to swim, they should know how to use safety equipment and they should take classes in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). It can be a lifesaver.
  • Allow no one, child or adult, swimmer or non-swimmer, to enter the pool unless a responsible person is accompanying them. Never leave an accessible pool unattended. Non-swimmers should wear approved safety vests at all times in and around the pool. Flotation devices are not a substitute.
  • Keep the drunks out of your pool. Never let intoxicated guests enter your pool.
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