For today’s blog, let’s talk about a single question: are guns more dangerous than your pool? The answer may surprise you. Believe it or not, your pool may actually be a far more significant hazard to your life. 100 times more, in fact.

Stick around, we’ll explain.

This Isn’t About Guns

First, a quick disclaimer: This is not a political post and we aren’t taking a position on the issue of gun control.

Instead, we’ll be looking at a question that was first posed in the 2005 bestselling book Freakonomics. Among other topics, the book used data to explore whether or not raising kids around a swimming pool is more dangerous than raising them around guns.

The answer in the book, and the point that we are trying to bring to light in this post, is the simple fact that a swimming pool is far more dangerous than many people even realize. When it comes to home safety, many people take precautions to lock up their weapons. That’s smart, and can help avoid potential tragedy.

However, people are not always as mindful of locking up their pool areas. This is because they likely don’t regard the pool to be as dangerous and therefore neglect to ensure proper protection from it. The fact is, your pool can also benefit from multiple layers of protection.

Understanding the Question

In a nutshell, the general idea of Freakonomics, was to ask intriguing questions and then look for their answers using statistics and economics. According to the official website, the authors “usually begin with a mountain of data and a simple, unasked question. Some of these questions concern life-and-death issues; others have an admittedly freakish quality. The book garnered a ton of interest and still lives on today as a podcast, film and more.

Recognizing and Avoiding Common Swimming Injuries

So… Are Guns More Dangerous Than Your Pool?

Believe it or not, statistically speaking, guns are significantly less dangerous than your swimming pool. According to Freakonomics, 742 children under the age of 10 drowned in the United States in 1997. As you can see from our monthly drowning stats, this remains a very serious problem.

Approximately 550 of those drownings referenced above took place in residential swimming pools. According to the most recent statistics, there are about six million residential pools, meaning that for every 11,000 pools, one young child drowns each year.

Conversely, Steven D. Levitt, one of the authors of the book, has this to say about guns:

“About 175 children under the age of 10 died in 1998 as a result of guns. About two-thirds of those deaths were homicides. There are an estimated 200 million guns in the United States. Doing the math, there is roughly one child killed by guns for every one million guns.

Thus, on average, if you both own a gun and have a swimming pool in the backyard, the swimming pool is about 100 times more likely to kill a child than the gun is.”

Here’s a video of the author’s delving deeper into the topic of “swimming pools vs. guns”:

Layers of Protection are the Key to Safety

As we explained, the real point of this article has little to do with firearms. It’s simply a provocative way to highlight just how little attention we pay to a potential hazard sitting right in our backyards.

With a pool or hot tub, a few seconds can lead to serious trouble. Drowning is preventable, but it takes effort and precaution. Safety should be the number-one concern of any pool owner.

It is best to have a wide range of options to protect the pool area. Layers of protection will greatly decrease your chances of a water-related tragedy. Let’s take a look at a few key precautions that you can implement in your home to help prevent drowning:

Pool Fences

Pool fences are specifically designed to keep children (and pets!) from accessing the pool area. Drowning rates drop significantly when one of these handy barriers is in place. Of course, the fence must be sturdy and of high quality. Refer to this blog about the value of pool fences for further details.

Self-Closing and Latching Gate

A self-closing and self-latching gate will close and lock behind you whenever you open them. This eliminates another potential flaw in your safety by preventing a child, animal or non-swimmer from accessing the water without supervision.

Locks and Alarms

Additionally, if a window or door can provide access to a pool area, it’s best to add a lock and alarm to it. These will prevent little ones or pets from getting outside, but also warn you about potential danger should they manage to make their way beyond the window or door. 

As you can see in this handy infographic, there are numerous other layers of protection you can add to your pool area.

Layers of Protection infographic


So: are guns more dangerous than your pool? Now that you’ve seen the numbers, we hope that you’ll see the reason for this comparison. A pool can be far more deadly than many of us realize. A responsible pool owner should take as many precautions necessary to prevent an accident from occurring.