Drowning is the leading cause of death in Arizona among children 1 - 4 years of age. In 2011, fifty-six percent of drowning deaths were among the 1-4 age groups. The total number of deaths among children older but younger than 18 was 837 of which 35 percent of these deaths could have been prevented. (Rimsza M.D., 2012)
In a study by the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS), among 38 incidents involving children less than 5 years of age, 38 incidents occurred in pools. ("Water-related incidents in," 2010) Toddlers aged between one and four years are most at risk, because they are mobile and curious but do not understand the danger of water. ("Unintentional drowning: Get," 2012) In 2009, 103 drowning accidents reported via 9-1-1 determined that children 0-4 years of age accounted for 59 of these incidents, 47 of which occurred in swimming pools. Of the 59 young children, 14 died. Others had permanent neurological damage. (Flood, 2009) Taking precautions to reduce the risk of drowning around your home is very important. A toddler or child can drown in five centimeters of water. Every exposed water source, no matter how shallow, poses a significant danger. This includes many other sources besides swimming pools such as buckets, bathtubs, birdbaths, and fishponds. (Flood, 1989)
Many programs initiated in the ‘90 have proposed awareness and pool fencing. Although a good beginning for prevention, there is more to do to meet a sufficient goal. Local ordinances enacted in Los Angeles County before 1996 do not appear to have been effective in reducing the rate of childhood drowning in residential pools (Morgenstern & Bingham 2000). The US National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health determined a few reasons for this ineffectiveness. Insufficient building codes for isolating pools from homes, inadequate enforcement of the ordinances, and inadequate operation or maintenance of fencing equipment by pool owners. ("Effects of pool-fencing," 2000)
There is an ordinance in Arizona that grants exemptions to certain cities, similar to L.A. and therefore poses the same hazard for our state. It allows older built homes to be exempt from having to install fencing. In a graph review from the Phoenix Association of Realtors’, several cities such as Scottsdale and Litchfield Park are not applicable to the State Law. The state ordinance for these cities allows for all new pools in communities that do not have their own ordinances prior to June 1, 1991to install pool fencing, but it does not apply to pools built prior to June 1, 1991. (Phoenix Association of Realtors (2002) Therefore, if a house is older than 23 yrs, then it is not mandatory to install fence /gates for the pool until sale of the house.
The problem with Arizona’s law is that it does not focus on the health problem as an overall statewide problem. Taking action to address a law but then grandfathering homes built prior to a certain date, and allowing for these exemptions does not solve the problem. If the intention is to further the reduction of the drowning death rate, then it is crucial to make sure it is achievable. Ensure that there are wider use of barriers such as secure fencing and a self-latching gate on all properties statewide. It should not matter how old the pool is or if it is a built-in or an above- ground pool. Although significant change has occurred over 25 years, there is a need to ensure that the law is applicable in all cities.
There are also homes that do not isolate the pool from the house. They have three-sided fencing with doors or windows from the house to the pool and are additional ways for children to have access. Fencing that completely encircles a pool and isolates it from the house is much more effective than fencing that allows children to gain access to the pool through the house. (Thompson & Rivera 2013) A pool fence must be 5ft tall