Knowledge of swimming pool safety among vendors and home pool owners and provision of safety devices and information by vendors

TitleKnowledge of swimming pool safety among vendors and home pool owners and provision of safety devices and information by vendors
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsBarss, P, Al-Darmaki, MH, Al-Saqqaf, AM, Al-Jenaibi, MJ, Grivna, M, Al-Maskari, F
Conference NameWorld Conference on Drowning Prevention
Date Published09/2007
PublisherInternational Life Saving Federation
Conference LocationPorto, Portugal
Other Numbers02-41

Introduction: Swimming pools are the second most frequent site for drowning in the UAE. We previously found that about 15% of local families own home pools and only about 5% are fitted with self-closing and self-latching gates. We decided to assess pool vendors’ safety knowledge and whether they supplied safety devices and information to clients, and to compare with home pool owners.

Methods: A structured self-administered questionnaire was developed to assess knowledge of personal and equipment risk factors for pool drownings and spinal injuries. All pool vendors and installers attending a 2006 Middle East pool exhibition in Dubai, UAE, as well as those listed in the yellow pages for the main cities of UAE were contacted to complete a self-administered questionnaire. Only one vendor agreed to supply names of clients, 7 of whom were contacted; another 43 pool owners were selected non-randomly by student investigators from family and friends in the four largest cities of UAE.

Results: Response was 77% (n=24) of contactable eligible vendors and 79% (n=39) of owners. 41% of vendors reported providing written safety material and 39% selling fences, 35% gates, 13% tensile hinges, 13% child-proof self-latching devices, and 83% “other safety measures”. Other measures included life rings, pool covers, alarms, and rescue poles. Of written safety information, 75% covered risk of drowning, 63% age of greatest risk, 50% fencing, 22% risk of spinal fracture, and 13% automatic childproof gates. Fencing sold included vertical bars 78%, horizontal bars 67%, and chain mesh 22%. Vendors believed alarms, covers, and manual gates were equal to or better than automatic gates in preventing child drownings and that active measures including education of parents, supervision, and swimming training for 1-4-year-olds were more effective than passive. 62% believed risk of spinal injury from diving was moderate to high, while opinions about safe depth and length of deep end for diving ranged from 2-4 metres and 3-7 metres respectively. Among owners, 18% reported receiving written safety information, 0% information about childproof gates and spinal injury, and 56% other pool equipment. Only 44% had fences, including 71% vertical bars and 24% chain mesh; only 6% of gates were automatic. Owners believed automatic gates were the most effective passive measure, but that active measures were more effective. 65% perceived risk of spinal injury from diving into a home pool as low or very low.

Conclusions: Pool vendors and owners have low levels of knowledge about evidence-based prevention of pool drowning and spinal cord injury, particularly automatic gates and safe depths and lengths for diving. Pool vendors have a more realistic perception of the risk of spinal cord injury from diving into home pools, but do not provide written information about this hazard. Mandatory safety training of pool vendors and owners together with strict regulations for childproof automatic gates are needed to protect the public from death and permanent injury.

Learning Outcomes
  1. Compare what pool vendors know about drowning and diving safety with what they should know
  2. Compare what pool owners know about drowning and diving safety with what they should know
  3. Compare what pool vendors say about pool safety to owners with what owners say they were told