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Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

Be safe while staying cool in the pool

STILLWATER, Okla. – Warm temperatures are chasing plenty of families to the pool to cool off. Keeping a few basic safety guidelines in mind will ensure accidents do not dampen the good times.

“Drowning and other pool related accidents are preventable in many cases,” said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist. “It’s a matter of staying alert, following some common sense precautions and being prepared in case an emergency occurs.”

Two basic safety measures families can take are to make sure everyone knows how to swim and to ensure adults learn how to perform CPR on kids and adults. 

“Be sure to teach kids safe behavior in the water, as well as ways they can help in case of emergency,” Peek said.

In fact, pools and spas can be especially dangerous for kids. A 2013 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) report on estimated pool and spa fatalities and injuries shows children younger than 5 years old accounted for more than 75 percent of pool and spa submersion deaths and 78 percent of injuries. 

“Kids should be monitored constantly while they are in and near pools and spas. Accidents can happen so fast. That’s why it’s a good idea to identify a ‘pool watcher,’ even if you’re at a commercial or public pool with lifeguards on duty,” Peek said. 

Swimmers of all ages should stay away from drains, pipes and other openings – and especially if they are broken, loose or missing – to avoid getting hair, swimwear, jewelry or limbs or other body parts tangled or lodged in a suction opening. Sitting on a drain that is not in working order also can cause serious injury.

“The suction from a pool or spa drain could be strong enough to trap an adult underwater,” Peek said. “Don’t use any pool or spa with broken or missing drain covers. Immediately report any broken, loose or missing drain covers to the pool operator.” 

At home, it is a good idea to assemble a pool safety kit that includes a first aid kit; a pair of scissors to cut hair, clothing or a pool cover; a charged portable phone to call for emergency assistance; and a flotation device. 

The CPSC recommends surrounding residential pools and spas with fences at least 4 feet high, and installing self-closing and self-latching gates. Using lockable safety covers on spas, as well as pool alarms, add layers of protection against accidents. 

Smaller portable pools should be emptied and stored after each use, while larger ones should be covered and access ladders removed when not in use. 

“Let your neighbors, babysitters and houseguests know you have a pool,” Peek said. “In the event a child does go missing, be sure to check nearby pools and spas immediately.” 

When you are enjoying community and commercial pools, pay attention to where life-saving equipment such as life rings and reaching poles is located. Also, look for posted safety rules and the nearest phone. 


Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating: The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer. 

Leilana McKindra
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
140 Agriculture North
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone: 405-744-6792
Fax: 405-744-5739

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078