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Why Inland advocates are cheering the new backyard-pool safety law

By in Press Enterprise on January 4, 2018

By Scott Schwebke, David Downey

Advocates for water safety in a hot region where swimming is extremely popular are cheering the arrival of a California law that mandates new and remodeled backyard pools be equipped with two features designed to prevent drownings.

While experts say it may take years for the mandate to significantly dent the number of Inland-area drownings, they believe it will save some lives early on.

Michelle Parker, Safe Kids Inland Empire coordinator at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital, said the law “is a big win for those of us who are trying to make sure that kids don’t get injured, or die, from submersion incidents.”

The law, which went into effect Monday, Jan. 1, targets the leading cause of death among California toddlers. It strengthens a 20-year-old law that required new and remodeled pools to have at least one safety device, such as a fence, a cover or an alarm.

The legislation was written by state Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, who termed it a “modest, common-sense update” that will not only save lives, but also millions of dollars associated with long-term care for children who suffer brain injuries in near-drownings.

Buying precious minutes

Drowning is the leading cause of death among children ages 1 to 4, claiming the lives of more than 160 such boys and girls across the state from 2010 to 2014, the California Department of Public Health reports.

In the Inland Empire, it is often the backyard pool where the drowning of a child takes place. In Riverside County last year, four children drowned — all in pools, according to county statistics. Three children drowned in San Bernardino County in 2017.

Though a second safety feature isn’t a cure-all, Parker and others said that the more barriers between a child and a pool the greater the chance of preventing that […]    

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