Childproofing - Water Safety for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Childproofing is a vital strategy

So much has changed since your toddler was a baby. But one thing has not:  the most important safety device in your backyard pool area is still your pool fence. Having a fence around your pool is like having a seat-belt in your car – it is there in case of an emergency, such as a lapse in parental supervision.

Use a pool fence as a deterrent

Your pool fence should be able to keep your toddler or preschooler from going OVER, UNDER, or THROUGH it.

  • OVER – Your preschooler loves to climb the playground equipment at the park. Your pool fence or the trees around it may look like an exciting challenge to her. Keep her from climbing over the pool fence by:
    • Installing a pool fence made of material that is not scalable, such as wrought iron or mesh.
    • Making sure that the fence is at least 60 inches tall; one that has a self-closing, self-latching gate.  Check the gate regularly to make sure it’s working properly.
    • Trimming trees and shrubs near the pool fence and don’t put playground equipment near the pool fence.  If the equipment is light enough to be pushed around by children, secure it so they can’t push it to the pool fence and use it to climb the fence.
    • Putting your patio furniture inside your pool area so children can’t use it to climb over the fence. 
  • UNDER – Check the pool area regularly for loose soil or rocks that can be dug loose to create a space for a child to slip beneath the fence. You can install brick or concrete beneath the fence to prevent this from happening.
  • THROUGH – Never prop open a pool gate. Every time that you enter and exit your pool area, double-check the gate to make sure it closes and latches properly. Agree to this rule as a family, explain it to guests, and begin to teach your toddler or preschooler. Check the gate regularly to make sure it’s working properly. You can also install an audible alarm on the gate to tell you when it has been opened.

Limit access to pool from home and front yard

In addition to a pool fence, childproofing should include limiting the access to the pool from your home and the front yard by:

  • Installing self-closing, self-latching hardware on the gate leading into your front yard. This is often a requirement in city pool ordinance codes.
  • Self-closing, self-latching hardware can be placed on doors leading from your home into the back yard. An audible alarm can also be added, or you can set your home alarm to “chime” when doors are opened.
  • Child-proof latches on windows can prevent a child from crawling out a window and into the backyard if there is a lapse in supervision.
  • Install childproof latches on doggie doors.

Other helpful childproofing resources

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