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Drowning raises pool safety concerns

Published On: Aug 14 2013 11:49:50 AM CDT
Updated On: Aug 13 2013 11:49:53 AM CDT

The drowning of a nine-year-old local girl is raising new concerns about the safety of swimming pools.

KINGSPORT, Tenn. -

The drowning of a nine-year-old local girl is raising new concerns about the safety of swimming pools.

Ashley Vincente had accompanied her father to Kingsport, where he was selling a lawnmower. While he sold the mower, she wandered away and was discovered at the bottom of a swimming pool. Click here to read more.

That accident prompted us to look into pool safety, specifically regulations about swimming pools.

The pool she was in had a fence around it, but somehow she got in the water. News 5 did some checking and found out two children ages 14 and under drown in the United States every day -- many of those drownings happen in swimming pools.

We also wanted to see what laws are on the books here to make sure pools are safe.

Kingsport resident Mark Eads says pools could be called an 'attractive nuisance' because of the risk they pose. "A pool can be a very dangerous thing," he said. "You have to have regulations because you can't always expect everybody to be responsible."

That prompted us to look into local pool regulations and codes, and what we found was surprising. In 2010, Sullivan County adopted a policy requiring fencing around pools. That is also the case for pools in Johnson City, Kingsport and Bristol, Tennessee, which have had that policy for several years.

But in Washington County, Tennessee, we discovered there is no code to require residents to have a fence or gate protecting their pool; that includes both above and in-ground pools.

We asked county officials why that is the case. We were told they've never had any problems, but they are still considering changing the code for obvious safety reasons. The county says insurance companies recommend, or require in many cases, that homeowners protect their pool and themselves.

Insurance agent Jeff Sneed agrees. "There are some companies who might say, 'We're not going to insure you if you don't put up a fence around the pool.' But it is not a requirement for all companies," he told us.

Most counties that have regulations or codes about fences and gates also have inspectors to check them out, something homeowner Mark Eads welcomes. "You've got to have some protection to protect the kids from getting themselves in bad shape," he said.

Another important fact we discovered is a 2011 Tennessee law requiring that any pool installed after January 2011 must have a pool alarm, which sounds if a person or object more than 15 pounds enters the pool. We checked online and found pool alarms cost from anywhere from $50 to over $300 depending on features.

For more information to protect you and your children, view this page on cdc.gov.