Enjoy your summer and teach your children to swim safely. Swimming is great exercise and wonderful entertainment for children. Nevertheless, drowning is the second-leading cause of injury-related death in children.
Each year, about 1,000 children drown and another 4,000 are hospitalized for near-drowning, usually in a pool owned by their family. Over 60 percent of children who drown in pools are under age four.
These tragedies do not have to happen.
* Install a fence at least four to five feet high, with vertical slats no more than four inches apart to keep children from squeezing through.
It should have no foot or handholds that can help a young child climb it. * The fence should completely surround the pool, and prevent direct access from the house and yard.
* The gate of the fence should be self-closing and self-latching as well. Never prop open a pool gate.
* Gate latches should be higher than your children can reach. And the latch should open away from the water, so that small children cannot use their weight to push it open.
* If the house forms one side of the barrier, then doors should be protected with alarms that produce an audible sound when a door is unexpectedly opened.
* Steps and ladders leading from the ground to an above-ground pool should be secured and locked, or removed when the pool is not used.
* Remove shrubs or trees that obstruct your view of the pool from inside the house.
* The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends layers of protection, including fences, pool covers and alarm systems. To obtain barrier recommendations, go to their website and enter "pool barriers" in the Search box.
* Keep a phone near the pool area. It is vital for emergencies, and you will not be tempted to desert a child to answer a phone in the house.
* Keep a strong, lightweight pole at least 12 feet long with a blunt end poolside.
* Invest in a ring buoy firmly attached to a long throwing rope.
* Put ladders on both ends of the pool.
* Do not leave objects such as tables or chairs near the fence, where children can use them to climb into the pool area.
* The water depth should be clearly marked on the pool deck and, if possible, above the water line of the pool wall.
* Indicate the break between the deep and shallow areas with a semi-permanent float line.
* Always completely remove the cover before using the pool or spa. Beware: light weight, floating solar-type pool/spa covers are not safety covers. A child can become trapped under this type of cover.
* A motorized pool cover operated by a switch that meets the standards of ASTM International adds to the protection of your children but should not replace the fence between your house and the pool.
You Can't Be Too Vigilant
Constant, vigilant supervision is the key to poolside safety when children are nearby.
* Never leave a child alone near any body of water ... even for an instant.
* Do not assume a child can swim just because he or she has had swimming lessons.
* Do not rely on inflatable toys or water wings to keep a child afloat. They are not life jackets.
* Do not bring tricycles or wheel toys into the pool area. Children could accidentally ride them into the water.
* Forbid horseplay. Pools are for swimming, not wrestling.
* During social gatherings, designate an adult to supervise children. Rotate the assignment so the watchers stay alert.
* If a child is missing, check the pool first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
* Remove toys from the pool area when not in use. Toys can attract young children into a pool.
* Make sure the drains and drain covers meet current standards.
* Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation, CPR. Baby-sitters and other caretakers should also know CPR.
* If you own a hot tub, many of these safety guidelines will apply.
Please take the time to lookover your pool area. Teach childern how to swim safely, teach them the rules how to enjoy the pool and swim safely. A few minutes to preview your pool to ensure that your guests can swim safely may prevent heartache later. Enjoy your home pool... enjoy the summer and swim safely.