Child safety pool: how to avoid accidents? | AXA Luxembourg
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Pool and child safety: how to avoid accidents?

Inflatable, self-supporting or in-ground... With summer just around the corner, swimming pools are sprouting up in our gardens, to the delight of children and adults alike. Yet the risk they pose to our children is still underestimated, too much so. Checkpoints.

Pool and child safety: how to avoid accidents?

Inflatable, self-supporting or in-ground... With summer just around the corner, swimming pools are sprouting up in our gardens, to the delight of children and adults alike. Yet the risk they pose to our children is still underestimated, too much so. Checkpoints.

Eight years ago, while spending the afternoon at the home of her childhood friend, Alexandra had the fright of her life. Her 16-month-old son slipped out of her sight for a few seconds and fell into the pool. “We were aware of the danger of the pool but we thought we were safe because of the cover. The problem was that the thermal cover wasn’t regulation and wasn’t properly attached. Luckily, the volunteer fireman next door was alerted by my screams and managed to resuscitate my son,” she recalls, still distraught as she thinks about it.

Accidents on the rise

AXA Luxembourg - piscines : des accidents en hausse

Although figures are not available in Luxembourg, those from our French neighbours are alarming. In 2018, 600 children under the age of 13 were victims of drowning and 51 did not survive. This represents an increase of 77% in accidental drownings since the previous study, carried out every three years*. For Jean-Louis Chabernaud, a paediatrician-resuscitator at the Hauts-de-Seine hospital in France, this surge in the number of accidents is due to the increase in the number of swimming pools: “More and more inflatable swimming pools are being installed everywhere. You can buy them cheaply in any supermarket. This multiplies the risks.”

What the law says

AXA Luxembourg - piscines : ce qui dit la loi

In Luxembourg, as in Belgium, there is no law requiring private pool owners to adopt safety devices. This is in contrast to France, where, since 2003, it has been compulsory to adopt at least one safety system (barriers, alarms, covers and enclosures) or otherwise face a fine. However, even without a legal obligation, most pool owners opt for one of these systems in Luxembourg and Belgium. “At least 80% of swimming pools in Belgium have a shutter or other covering system,” says Joeri Dils, director of the Belgian Association of Pool Builders. He also points out that most accidents take place in pools equipped with safety systems, when these are not in use.

Accidents happen so quickly

AXA Luxembourg - piscines : l’accident est si vite arrivé

According to the prevention website Santé publique France, most rescue operations on children under 6 years of age in private swimming pools take place when the child is swimming or in the evening. This is because lack of vigilance is the main cause of accidental drowning. “Unfortunately, the precautions to avoid an incident are poorly applied,” warns Doctor Jean-Louis Chabernaud, for whom the best system is “to never take your eyes off the child.” In fact, it takes less than 3 minutes for a child to drown, even in 10 cm of water. This means that there is no alternative, constant vigilance is necessary:

  • Go into the water with your children when they are swimming
  • For each child, assign an adult who takes responsibility for their supervision
  • If you have to be away for even a minute (to answer the phone or to open the door) take the child out of the water and take him/her with you.

When using the pool, nothing replaces adult supervision.  But when the pool is not in use, it can be effectively secured by one of the following systems.

Pool protection systems

AXA Luxembourg - Les systèmes de protection pour piscine

According to a study by Cochrane, the International Health Association**, 75% of swimming pool deaths of young children could be prevented by a four-sided fence that completely separates the pool from the house and garden.

While the fence is the most effective system, an alarm is the least expensive device to install. The alarm is placed in the water or around the pool. It detects when the area has been breached and sets off a siren to alert adults and the neighbourhood.

A pool cover has the advantage of being multifunctional. It prevents your pool from getting dirty due to dead leaves, prevents the water from cooling down too quickly and, of course, makes the pool safe. Reinforced with protective bars and fastening systems, this safety cover prevents both children and adults from falling into the water.

Your pool is safe but is it insured?

AXA Luxembourg - Votre piscine est sécurisée mais est-elle assurée ?

If garden insurance is included in your home insurance, make sure you declare your pool when you take out your insurance policy so that you are covered in the event of a claim. What’s more, by taking out civil liability insurance, the insurance will compensate the victims of accidents that may occur in your pool and for which you are held liable.

With that word of warning, we wish you a great summer... and stay safe!


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* Etude Santé publique France, 2018.

** Pool fencing for preventing drowning in children.