Two 5-year-olds drown in home pool: How can you prevent pool drownings this summer?

The deaths of two 5-year-old girls in Paulding County are yet another reminder that we have to be vigilant watching our children around pools.

An average of 390 children ages 0-14 die in pool and spa drownings each year. About 5,200 more are treated for injuries in emergency rooms, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Pool Safety Web site. According to the site:

“Drownings are the leading cause of injury and death for children ages 1 to 4 according to the CDC.

There were 390 annual average number of drowning deaths in children ages 0 to 14 from 2007 to 2009 as reported to the CPSC.

75 percent of deaths involved children under age 5.

67 percent of deaths involved children between ages 1 to 3.

African-American children ages 5 to 14 die from drowning 3 times more often than white children according to the CDC.

According to the chart, Georgia had 11 deaths between the ages of 0 to 14 reported by the media in 2011. South Carolina had 4 and Alabama had 8.

Arizona had 33.

Deaths and injuries are the highest during May to August. “

The counties in Georgia regulate pool safety laws so your county may or may not require fencing. I remember growing up in Gwinnett that everyone had fences around their backyards. This kept random people out of their pools but didn’t keep children in the backyard from falling in. Different insurance companies may also require fences for coverage.

I never wanted to be a pool owner but it’s so unGodly hot in Arizona that almost everyone has a pool. As you can imagine I am fairly worried about kids drowning at my house, and we try to be vigilant. (It’s so scary because drownings happen fast and freak things can happen to children who can swim.)

You are required by law to have a fence or net on your pool (not just around the yard but around the pool!)  if children under 6 live there. We have a removable fence that an adult could take down for parties or when the kids are grown. We also have a weighted sliding back door that our 5-year-old cannot open. The big kids have a hard time opening it. She can’t get into the backyard unless someone lets her out and then I have the pool fence around the pool. (But you still have to watch to make sure there is no crazy climbing or the big kids don’t let her inside the fence.)

When we are having a party I make Lilina wear a safety vest even though she can swim. I keep extra safety vests at the house—one in each size — just in case visitors need them. The vests are not a replacement for eyes on the kids but it makes me feel better that if I get distracted or if another kid grabs on to her she won’t go under.

When the kids have pool parties I have the parents fill out a chart so I know who is a strong swimmer and who is not. Then I keep extra close eye on my weaker swimmers.

Last summer a friend gave us a name tag that says “I’m the one watching the kids” because often parents will be chatting assuming someone else is watching the kids. The neighbors also like to have extra adults on hand or higher a dedicated life guard for parties.

I always keep the phone out back in case we need to call 911.

We are doing swim team to help the big kids be stronger swimmers and Lilina is starting her regular summer lessons this week to work on her strokes.

For more information on pool safety check out these links:

Stats on deaths from swimming

Video and activities for kids to teach about pool safety

Watch again the video and the description we ran last year about what drowning looks and sounds like. There is no noise. There is no screaming. It’s just them going under!

Also parents have to be aware of portable pools and even baby pools. Portable pools account for 11 percent of pool drownings for children under the age of 5.

Here are portable pool safety tips.

Here are regular pool safety tips.

What steps do you take around your home or neighborhood pool to keep kids safe? Share your best tips to prevent drownings this summer.

51 comments Add your comment


June 12th, 2012
1:24 am

How? We just don’t have a pool at our house. Too much to worry about.
We are fortunate that there’s a pool nearby with lifeguards (who are still no substitute for parental supervision).
I think all kids need to take swimming lessons, starting when they’re toddlers and continuing past when *they* say they don’t need it any more. But even if your kid can swim, if they try to “help” another child who can’t swim the results could be disastrous very quickly. Promoting or arranging swimming lessons for your neighborhood/pool would be helpful.
Families with young children who have pools in their yards have a stronger constitution than me.


June 12th, 2012
1:42 am

the person who taught our children to swim always had a time where she talked about how to safely help someone who was having trouble. Basically, it was along the lines of ‘give them something to hold onto like a tube, boogie board or pole preferably from out of the pool’ and ‘never, ever get near enough to them that they could grab you.’

We had a dear friend lose a 2-year-old to drowning at a friend’s house. The child wandered away from the house full of children and ended up in the pool next door. It was gut-wrenchingly sad to go to that funeral. And it definitely made me more vigilant at the pool with my kids, although that wouldn’t have helped in this case.

I’m not sure how you really recover from being the adult-in-charge when this happens. That telephone conversation will replay itself in that woman’s mind for the rest of her life. I will say that 45 minutes is a really long time to be on the phone without having the kids in sight.


June 12th, 2012
6:16 am

This one question I understand. I grew up around the water. Everyone that wants into the pool hAS to be able to swim. And naturally, a fence so no non swimmer wanders in. Swimming is the quintisential exercise. I am at the pool daily.


June 12th, 2012
6:53 am

Ditto everything the first poster said. I am heartbroken for these two families. I’ve worked several drowning cases that involve young children (under 12) there is always some level of neglect. You just can’t be too careful. Those girls should have never had access to the backyard. I know the father is blaming the babysitter (who wouldn’t?) but, it was his house and there should have been more locks, gates etc..especially since a 5 yr old lived there. This is one of those stories that sticks with you. So sad.


June 12th, 2012
7:14 am

You have a pool alarm that goes off when anything breaks the surface of the water.


June 12th, 2012
8:03 am

All our kids take swimming lessons, always have, always will..

My oldest is training to be a life guard to work at neighborhood pools. I think that’s important too. Probably all the kids will go through life guard training.


June 12th, 2012
8:23 am

Many people believe that drowning victims will make a lot of noise and thrash about, but that’s a fallacy. Most drownings are completely silent, so vigilant watching is key to preventing a drowning. I think the identification of a single adult with a badge (or hat, or something) is a great idea! (I just hope that it gets passed around during the party so one person isn’t stuck watching the pool the whole time.)


June 12th, 2012
8:23 am

If you have a child living in a home where there is a pool, you make sure that they can swim..You put up a safety gate, you never let them out of your sight..Of course I know that kids can “slip” away, but she was on the phone for 45 minutes and never knew that these girls weren’t around?

So sad for the families of these two young girls..I am confused though, the Dad is blaming the babysitter, but the story that I read is that the rest of the family was at the grocery store..How many people went to the grocery store and left one person at the house?


June 12th, 2012
9:06 am

When you take on a pool, you also take on the commitment to make the pool safe, not to let your kids out of your sight, and to make sure they are water-safe. We had a pool in Florida BK (Before Kids), but after we moved to Atlanta and starting our family, I just did not want a pool. My heart goes out to that family. A 45 minutes phone call while the nanny is working?! I assume she was on a cell phone — what could have been so absorbing that she could walk around and keep an eye on the girls while she was talking?


June 12th, 2012
9:10 am

Heartbreaking story, and good points all around today. 45 minutes is an eternity to not check on 2 little kids. We don’t have a pool, but we have a pond and a hot tub, so we have 2 ‘hazards’ to monitor. The rule is that DD does NOT get near the pond without one of us right there with her, and she is never outside to play alone. The hot tub is thankfully in a screened gazebo with a tricky door (I have issues opening), and a heavy, secured cover.

We went to the lake last weekend and worked on DD’s swimming, which is so important that we need to do it more!

I can’t imagine the pain and grief of these families.


June 12th, 2012
10:33 am

Many people believe that drowning victims will make a lot of noise and thrash about, but that’s a fallacy.

Theresa, aren’t you the one who posted a blog on this? Even though it may not apply to this situation, that information is pure gold for anyone around water.


June 12th, 2012
10:34 am

Oops, just noticed the link above, sorry. But I urge anyone who hasn’t read it to do so.


June 12th, 2012
10:37 am

My comment was eaten, Theresa. :-(


June 12th, 2012
11:31 am

The parents will feel this loss the rest of their lives and will question what they could have done better.

However, when they left the child with a trusted Nanny they were right 100%.

M Spitz

June 12th, 2012
11:46 am

Parents share equal responsibility. A pool is an attractive hazard and regardless of how well your children swim, strong precautions should be made including child fences around the pool, pool alarms if someone falls in and chimes on doors to notify virtually any incompetant that the door has been opened and they should check the area. If you can afford to add a pool, you can afford to include the necessary warning devices. Parents should wake up and shoulder this equally

Mammy Obvious

June 12th, 2012
11:59 am


Put down the iPad, hang up the smart phone, close the laptop and BE A PARENT to your kids.


You’re Welcome.


June 12th, 2012
12:01 pm

While I understand the temptation to blame the nanny, it was simply a horrible accident. Sympathies to everyone involved.


June 12th, 2012
12:15 pm

This is so awful. You MUST be sure your pool is secure! And 5 year olds should know how to swim! And if you are in charge of a child, they should be within your sight or hearing all the time at that age.


June 12th, 2012
12:16 pm

Theresa, any comment on the Creflo Dollar incident?


June 12th, 2012
12:23 pm

Mike, that’s probably why they are charging Felony Reckless Conduct and not two counts of Felony Involuntary Manslaughter…..unfortunate…..but there is a certain amount of fault for the nanny.

catlady….one of the girls could swim. I believe the other was never around water. Seemed the swimmer drowned trying to save the other little girl.

Hanna Allen

June 12th, 2012
12:25 pm

Please take a look at ISR we have a pool at the house (that came with it) and are super cautionus.But we put our daughter through Infant Swim Rescue so if she falls in she can turnover and float and get to the side of the pool.


June 12th, 2012
1:12 pm

Raiderbeater–mea culpa. And how tragic it is that this happened.


June 12th, 2012
1:33 pm

how is this JUST the nannies fault. were the proper safety enclosures in place. DId they even have the pool fenced off….with a access gate, locked…not just latched BUT locked.
If not then the parents are jsut as responsible as the nanny.

I have seen so many of this above ground pools with no protection around it.. and even if it is empty witht amounts of rain we have had 2″ – 3″ of water can drown a small curious child that falls in and hits his/her head on the ground inside the pool…
THe parents may still be charged if it is determined they did not follow the proper procedures to insure the pool was safe….unsderstand that the greif they face may be enough so then don’t lay all of it on the nanny….


June 12th, 2012
1:35 pm

agreed M spitz….


June 12th, 2012
1:36 pm

Having relocated from the state of Florida such tragic events were a weekly headline where pools are in 95% of the homes. I feel for the parents of both families having known parents who experienced such a horrible event that ended with the loss a child or those who live with the daily reminder of a “near drowning” that requires constant 24 hour care. I say prayers for both families for healing and so sorry for their loss.


June 12th, 2012
1:49 pm

women, and their dayum phones, ALWAYS YAKKING!

Horrible, but...

June 12th, 2012
2:02 pm

An awful accident and praying for the family. Can’t imagine the thought of losing a child.
A 45 minute phone call and never once looked up to search for the children..irresponsible!

I am a resident of the neighborhood, and it was raining hard the majority of the morning/early afternoon. In our HOA guidelines, it states no home owner is allowed to have an individual pool…so not sure how this family got away with having one in the first place.


June 12th, 2012
2:04 pm

I don’t understand Mike’s comment. The nanny was left in charge of the children, meaning she was 100% responsible for them. One of them was her own daughter, and she was being PAID to take care of the other one. She is 100% responsible. There was no valid excuse for them being out of her sight.


June 12th, 2012
2:13 pm

Along with catlady, I would also like to see a blog on the Creflo Dollar incident, particularly a discussion of why a congregation chooses to believe the preacher, brushing it under the rug, instead of the two teenagers who appear to be providing very specific accounts of more than one incident. The child felt scared enough to call 911.


June 12th, 2012
2:32 pm

This is a tragedy and I feel for the family… But I think there’s plenty of blame to share… I think the nanny was irresponsible and when it comes to immediate blame.. Yes.. she should be blamed.. and will pay for his irresponsibility. 45 minutes is a long time to not wonder why you don’t hear thier voices, why aren’t they running around… or simply call out their names to make sure all is well. What about that phone call was so important that you forgot your responsibility to these children… HOWEVER, the parents should be sited (if they could be)for not having the pool covered while it’s not in use, or having a safety gate that can lock or a door notification on the door leading to the pool area… By now it’s a no brainer when you have kids… Clearly they will sneak around and do exactly what they are told NOT to do… It’s an unfortunate situation for EVERYONE…


June 12th, 2012
3:11 pm

It’s easy to get distracted thinking that the kids are playing in one part of the house when you are in another room or on another floor. At least ONCE, every parent has ASSUMED their child was in one place when in reality the child was somewhere else. The only way to have a pool is to have a locked fence around it with a pool alarm. Otherwise, it’s just not worth the risk.


June 12th, 2012
3:14 pm

We had a 20X40 inground pool while my youngsters were babies. It’s all about common sense. GATES WITH LOCKS AND SOUND ALARMS!!!! This is less than a $1000.00 expense. If you can afford a pool, then you can afford this protection. Problem is lots of people w/ not a whole lot of money or common sense think they can afford pools….NOT. That extra $$ gets spent on Lexus’, Mercedes, BMW’s & other stupid crap they do not need.
The old woman is partially to blame, but I blame the father. He is the leader of that family and should have made it almost impossible for those kids to get in that pool.


June 12th, 2012
3:52 pm

Unfortunately these accidents happen and they will happen again. When ever such a recreational activity is engaged in, be it bicycles, motorcycles, boats,jet skis etc. There are always risks involved.
How you approach these risks and prepare to avoid the deadly ones makes the difference between Life and Death in some cases.


June 12th, 2012
4:01 pm

Go hug your kids!


June 12th, 2012
4:03 pm

This is a tragedy yes and the little girls didn’t deserve this but I am sick of the father saying it is 100% the nanny, yes she was supposed to be watching them but the parents own the pool obviously without safety equipment and they hired the nanny.


June 12th, 2012
4:07 pm

So sad and heartbreaking. I pray for all involved. Hope this event will help prevent others.


June 12th, 2012
4:07 pm

Not to be a heartless SOB but since the father clearly cant speak english, has anyone even checked to see if ANY of these folks are even allowed to be in this country, especially the “nanny”?


June 12th, 2012
4:18 pm

If the parents choose not to put locks on the inside of the doors, and there is no lock on the fence around the pool, or no fence at all then the parents should be held accountable; although, the nanny is primarily at fault for talking on the phone, and not checking on the children.


June 12th, 2012
4:35 pm

Are you serious? The nanny was left to care for the children. This is her job, not to mention one of the kids was her own grandchild. Two different sets of parents left this woman in charge of their children’s care. It is inexcusable that any employee sits on the phone for 45 minutes not doing their job. That’s the fact of the matter here. She was hired to do a job and got on a personal phone call and failed to protect those children. ANYTHING! That happens to a child is the fault of an adult. Period! As adults we are charged with keeping children safe. It’s tragic, and it’s sad, but it is her fault. She was the adult in charge of the house and the children at the time. It doesn’t matter that the parents didn’t put locks on their doors to keep their own daughter —who could swim — inside. They didn’t drown on the parent’s watch, they drowned on the nanny’s watch. If a neighborhood child wonders into an unlocked gate, then maybe you have some liability there, but not in this case.

FCM on my cell

June 12th, 2012
4:37 pm

Its not just the yong kids. Friend of the family’s granddaughter was just shy of her21st bday. She and friends were partying hard inside the fence of a neighborhood pool. The party folk dwcided to head home. They coyldn’t find the girl. Somw thought she got a ride home or walked home earlier. They checked the ladies room etc but never checked the pool.. When someone went the next day she was at the bottom. Apparently she fell in…drunk&/or stonwd to b sure….but nobody noticed.

To quote her grandmother “What a waste.”

Heartless SOB

June 12th, 2012
5:07 pm

I agree with Scott’s earlier comment. If the guy can’t speak any english, i wonder if he is here legally. also, when i read the ajc about drownings in lake lanier and alltona, it’s usually hispanic people. perhaps this is just Darwinism at it’s best.

Heartless SOB

June 12th, 2012
5:11 pm

Lara: the lady was Hispanic… they love calling mexico every chance they get on their metro pcs phones. if you look into the gwinnett sheriffs department, the nanny is on Hold for immigration. They put here on ICE. Now, you’re right, it is the Nanny’s fault, but this is what happens when you hire an illegal. But, i do think an illegal hired another illegal.


June 12th, 2012
5:20 pm

Yep, can check “making it about race” off my idiotic commenters bingo card.


June 12th, 2012
6:13 pm

Heartless SOB, you do not have to be a typical racist SOB either….Just because they speak a another language different from your primary language does not make them automactically Illeagal.
I bet you are not as smart to speak another language and I am sure you a far less proficient in your own primary language and its usage as you may think! The Igonorance displayed here by some makes me sick enough to want to VOMIT!


June 12th, 2012
6:15 pm

A tragedy on many levels and definitely some shared responsibility. Nanny or no nanny, it’s the homeowner’s duty to ensure the living environment is reasonably safe for young children or anyone who is uncomfortable around water. Pools are inherently risky and need to be treated as such. Perimeter alarms and security could’ve easily prevented this from occurring. An earlier poster, who claimed to be a neighbor, mentioned how this HOA disallowed individuals pools. This leads me into my next question: had the father been able to read/speak English, would he have then understood the covenants of the HOA? I cannot speak for that neighborhood, but mine doesn’t publish our HOA rules in multiple languages, nor would I ever expect them to. Had the father done the “right thing”, there would’ve never been a pool in which children died.


June 12th, 2012
6:47 pm

We must stop assigning blame to every accident. As parents, I am certain that we have all be distracted by laundry, a phone call, cleaning up a mess, or other mundane thing, and let 45 minutes or an hour go by without notice. These families will never be the same, and blame will only weigh down their already heavy hearts. I hope that they can find some peace in forgiveness.

another comment

June 12th, 2012
10:20 pm

I have lived in two different HOA’s that technically did not allow seperate pools. However, they could not legally prevent you from building one. All you had to do was get prior approval from the HOA and comply with the local building codes. The pool companies take care of all of that.

Also, my pool maintenance guy tells me that only one of people on his route which has about 80 pools a week on it, actually locks, their pool gate.

another comment

June 12th, 2012
10:40 pm

We grew up with an acre big pond that we swam in. It was located about a 1/4 mile from our house. It had a shelter and a beach my father had made. It was the time before cell phones, and their was no phone near except at our house. My father, made my mother go watch us swim, even though she could not swim. She use to yell at us not to go over our heads or swim across. We used to swim across and go over our heads. Telling her what are you going to do, you can’t swim anyways. Of course, my father made sure that all of us children could swim at a very young age.

In Middle School one of the PE coaches had me teach the kids that made it to middle school that did not know how to swim. I willingly took this on. I did not want anyone to end up like my Mom. I repeatedly offered to teach my mom to swim as I got into my Teens and older. But she refused to learn.

My own children, would grab on to my neck when I tried to teach them to swim. They knew I would not let them go. I then hired instructors to teach them. I hired instructors to come to the HOA pool. Then other people would all want to hire the instructors I found.


June 13th, 2012
5:44 am

The prosecutor who came up with a misdemeanor charge needs to be fired for dereliction of duty. This is involuntary manslaughter, pure and simple, nothing less. What an outrage.


June 13th, 2012
5:49 am

Why does every story like this have comments attached that draw the attention off the story and to some personal experience some idiot has had in their life? WTFcares for chrissakes?! Are you people THAT lonely?!

I have, We have, I have, We have, We do, I do, My kids, me me me I I I…….WOW!!!!

Granted this brings forth a great sense of empathy in any normal human being, but I’ve rarely witnessed so much self centered TRIPE in my life. You want to personalize THIS?