Don’t drown your summer fun!

City of Albert Lea advises residents to follow rules and safety tips for swimming pools

While no drownings were reported in Albert Lea last year,  six drowning deaths occurred in swimming pools in Minnesota. Four of those drownings were children.

Drowning is a leading cause of death for children 1 – 4 years old, and most of these drownings occur in swimming pools, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Not all drownings are fatal. Drowning is experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion or immersion in liquid. Drowning injuries can cause brain damage and other serious outcomes, including long-term disability.

“Drowning can happen anytime, including when children are not expected to be near water, such as when they gain unsupervised access to pools. That’s why following the rules for fencing, screening and placement of swimming pools are so important,” said Wayne Sorensen, City of Albert Lea building official.

Many people are unaware of the risks of swimming pools, as well as the local and state rules for how and where you place them. To maintain Albert Lea’s record of zero drownings, the City of Albert Lea advises residents to:

  • Call the City Development Services at 507-377-4340 for a zoning review before purchasing a swimming pool (above- or below-ground) to make sure it will work on your property.
  • Know the legal requirements of City Code Section 50.0015 – private swimming pools: A private swimming pool shall include a pool, human-made pond or open tank not located within a completely enclosed building and containing or normally capable of containing water to a depth of at least 1.5 feet. No such swimming pool shall be allowed unless it complies with the requirements of the state building code and the following conditions:
      1. The pool, including any walks, paved areas or accessory structures thereto, may not be located closer than 5 feet to any property line of the property in which it is located.
      2. The swimming pool or the entire property on which it is located shall be so walled or fenced as to prevent uncontrolled access by children from the street or adjacent properties.
      3. The pool shall be screened by means of a masonry wall, board fence, compact hedge, or other suitable vegetation of sufficient height so as to generally obscure the view of the pool from the street and adjacent properties.

Other tips to stay safe:

  • Supervise all swimming! Do not leave children unattended, even for a few minutes.
  • Use self-closing or self-latching gates on the fencing.
  • Enroll children in swimming lessons at the Albert Lea Aquatic Center or Albert Lea Family Y. Young children who can’t swim property are more likely to drown, even with the use of life jackets or other flotation devices.
  • Remove toys from pools immediately after swimming to prevent children from trying to grasp the toys and falling into the water.

The same guidelines apply to hot tubs and ponds.