27 May Swimming Pool Safety Tips All Parents Should Know
School is out and here comes summer. It is so important to have a plan when it comes to pool safety. A backyard pool promises endless summer fun, but it also comes with the huge responsibility of keeping fast and fearless little ones out of harm’s way. This is how we can all work together to help prevent drownings. Drowning can happen that fast—in the time it takes to order an ice cream cone. Despite all we know about how to prevent it, drowning is still the leading cause of death by unintentional injury in kids ages 1 through 4 and the second-leading cause in kids ages 5 through 9 in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (For kids ages 5 through 9, it is second only to motor-vehicle traffic.) Seven hundred children die every year and more than 6,000 suffer non-fatal injuries from incidents in pools, oceans, lakes, streams, bathtubs, and even buckets of water. However, more than half of young children ages 1 to 4 who drown do so in home swimming pools. Parents have the power to keep kids safe. Here’s how we can prevent even one more child from drowning.
Top Drowning Prevention Tips For Parents
- Talk About it!
If there’s a drowning or a nonfatal drowning in your community, talk about it with other parents, and use it as an opportunity to fight for better pool-safety regulations. “Many pool laws are made locally, and advocating at the local level is often the most effective way to achieve change,” says Parents advisor Gary A. Smith, M.D., director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, in Columbus, Ohio.
Equally important: Talk with your kids about all aspects of water safety. Nearly 70 percent of childhood drownings happen when kids aren’t swimming; they may wander over to a neighbor’s yard, slip through an unlocked back door during playtime, or tumble into a kiddie pool filled with rain water. We should teach young children that water can be dangerous, just like cars.
- Put Away Your Phone
Lifeguards see it all the time. “Parents and caregivers show up at the pool, tell the kids to stay in the shallow end, and then go right on their phones,” says Josh Rowland, aquatics product manager for the American Red Cross. At the very least, unwatched kids end up being babysat by lifeguards or other adults. But children can silently slip beneath the surface and drown in seconds—the time it takes to post on Instagram. You don’t need to leave your phone at home—in fact, you should keep it fully charged and within reach so you can call for help in case of an emergency. However, silence that sucker and stow it in your bag. Then push your friends to do the same. And if you absolutely, positively must send an urgent email or make a call, find a responsible adult to stand in while you step away.
- Take Swim Lessons
Even if you don’t live close to water, your child will end up near it at some point, whether on vacation or at someone else’s home. Taking swim lessons absolutely cannot “drown-proof” anyone, but according to a recent policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), swimming lessons maybe beneficial to children between the ages of 1 and 4. “The right time to start depends on an individual child’s emotional and physical readiness, “says Ben Hoffman, M.D., who is chair of the AAP Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention, the group that authored the statement.
- Have an Emergency Plan in Place
Knowing even basic CPR and acting immediately—instead of waiting for emergency responders—can make the difference between life and death in drowning cases or anytime a person’s heart stops. Round up a group of parents and sign up for CPR classes together. Even if a child doesn’t need CPR after being submerged, having water in her lungs can still lead to serious trouble. Watch for coughing, lethargy, and rapid breathing, and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask your child’s doctor, go to the emergency department, or call 911.
How to Keep Your Safe
Install a fence at least 4 feet high around all four sides of the pool. The fence should not have openings or protrusions that a young child could use to get over, under, or through.
Make sure that the gate leading to your pool is self-closing and self-latching, and that it opens out. Latches should be above a child’s reach, and the space between the bottom of the fence and the ground should be less than 4 inches. Never prop open a gate to the pool area.
Other smart tips to follow: Watch your child closely and make sure she doesn’t swim or play near drains. Tie her hair back or have her wear a bathing cap, and make sure her swimsuit fits snugly, with no loose ties.