With the summertime heat, you and your children might find yourselves spending more and more time at a family member’s pool, a friend’s pool or in your own backyard pool. Sadly, in California, drowning remains the leading cause of death for children under the age of five, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

So, if you have a young child, here’s what you need to know about keeping your child safe when a backyard pool is easily accessible.

  1. Does the pool have a barrier safety fence around it? With a self-closing, self-latching gate? You want to make sure that any pool your child might have easy access to has this safety feature and that the gate works properly. If your child is walking, you know how quickly he or she quickly can get from one place to another. With a fence and gate around a pool, that protects them from ending up in the water.
  2. Do the doors leading to the pool have door alarms? This is especially important if a backdoor allows straight access to the pool. Then, everyone can know if a curious toddler or preschooler ends up wanting to go for a swim on their own.
  3. Remove any ladders or steps used to access the pool when it’s not in use. If the pool is above ground, this will hinder a child’s ability to get to the water quickly.
  4. Does the pool have a pool cover? If there’s a spa or jacuzzi, does that have a lockable safety cover? Make sure you or your family member or friend secures any pool or spa cover properly when the pool or spa is not in use. When the pool is in use, pool owners need to remove them completely to prevent anyone from becoming trapped underneath them.
  5. Does the pool have pool or gate alarms? If you have a backyard pool, these alarms will go even one step further in preventing child drownings.
  6. Does the pool have anti-vortex main drain covers? These are now a required safety feature in pools, to prevent children from being trapped in the drain’s suction. If your backyard pool or relative’s pool is older, make sure this type of drain cover is in place.
  7. Are the pool’s chemicals properly maintained? Is it clean? Chlorine and Ph levels need to be checked weekly and other chemicals monitored monthly.

Once your child is swimming well, teach them that they need to ask permission to use the pool. They always need to be supervised. They also are safer if they are swimming with a buddy. You also can have your younger children wear U.S. Coast Guard life jackets or swim vests to ensure they are fully safe in the water.