In the United States, 400 children die from pool or spa related injuries every year, most under the age of 5. That's about 15 preschool classes of children that die from drowning, a tragedy that, in many instances, could have been prevented. The movies and media portray drowning in a false light, assuming that flapping, flailing arms and calling for help are typical signs of struggle.
Much to the surprise of many, drowning is actually a silent endeavor, claiming the lives of children in as little as two minutes, often during instances in which an adult is momentarily distracted.
As a parent, caregiver, or supervising adult, what can you do to make sure this tragedy does not happen in your community? The American Red Cross suggests the following precautions on home pool safety.
• Secure your pool with appropriate barriers. Completely surround your pool with a 4-feet high fence or barrier with a self-closing, self-latching gate. Place a safety cover on the pool or hot tub when not in use and remove any ladders or steps used for access. Consider installing a pool alarm that goes off if anyone enters the pool.
• Keep children under active supervision at all times. Stay in arm’s reach of young kids. Designate a responsible person to watch the water when people are in the pool—never allow anyone to swim alone. Have young or inexperienced swimmers wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
• Ensure everyone in the home knows how to swim well by enrolling them in age-appropriate water orientation and learn-to-swim courses.
• Keep your pool or hot tub water clean and clear. Maintain proper chemical levels, circulation and filtration. Regularly test and adjust the chemical levels to minimize the risk of earaches, rashes or more serious diseases.
• Establish and enforce rules and safe behaviors, such as “no diving,” “stay away from drain covers,” “swim with a buddy” and “walk please.”
• Ensure everyone in the home knows how to respond to aquatic emergencies by having appropriate safety equipment and taking water safety, first aid and CPR courses.
Tragedies involving water can happen in a split second, yet these accidents are preventable. For more tips on how to ensure pool and swimming safety please visit: www.redcross.org