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Pool Safety Tips Every Parent Needs To Know | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey


Drowning can happen fast, and despite all we know about prevention, it’s still the leading cause of death by unintentional injury in kids ages 1 through 4 in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Drowning is also a leading cause of accidental death for those ages 5 to 19. Indeed, nearly 900 children die every year—and thousands more suffer non-fatal injuries—from incidents in pools, oceans, lakes, streams, bathtubs, and even buckets of water.

However, the majority of young children who drown do so in home swimming pools. That’s why pool safety is critical for parents to know.

Yes, pools are an easy way to keep kids entertained for hours, but water has no mercy. “Having an unfenced pool is like having an uncaged lion in your backyard,” says Morgan Miller, wife of Olympian Bode Miller and mom of Emmy, whose tragic death at 19 months in a friend’s pool catapulted childhood drowning into the national spotlight. “To a child, that big furry animal could look like something fun to play with. It’s appealing and tempting. But we as adults know that a lion is deadly and can kill your child.”

Thankfully, you—and all of us—have the power to keep kids safe. Here’s how we can prevent even one more child from drowning.

Safety Tips To Prevent Drowning Anywhere

Safety is important no matter what type of body of water your child is around. Here’s what experts recommend to keep your little ones safe.

Talk about it

As scary and upsetting as drowning is, it has to become part of the ongoing parenting conversation. “Parents talk about sleep schedules, car seats, and the best phone apps. Yet we don’t talk about the number one thing that can snatch your child’s life in seconds,” says Nicole Hughes, who lost her son in a drowning accident.

Post stories on social media that show how drowning can devastate any family, at any time of year, at anytime of day. Share what you plan to do to help keep your kids safe.

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 Gary A. Smith, MD, founder and 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% 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,” says Tina Dessart, pre-competitive program director at USA Swimming, who oversaw the USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash initiative, which focuses on the importance of learning to swim. “Tell them, ‘You don’t go in or near the water without a grown-up, just like you don’t cross the street without a grown-up. It is dangerous.’ You should regularly reinforce this message the way you do all other household rules.”

Tina Dessart of USA Swimming

We should teach young children that water can be dangerous, just like cars.

— Tina Dessart of USA Swimming

Insist on water watchers

When everybody’s watching, nobody’s watching. That’s why safety organizations urge parents and caregivers to take turns being on official “water-watching duty” in group-swim situations.

Don’t just give the idea lip service; you can be the one to get a rotation going. Wear a “water watcher” tag, then pass it to the next parent on duty. Keep one in your bag and pull it out when you’re meeting up with friends at the public pool or beach, even when there’s a lifeguard on duty.

Being a good water watcher is like being a good lifeguard: “You intervene when a kid may be even slightly in trouble so he doesn’t get to the point of drowning,” says Linda Quan, MD, professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington, in Seattle.

Know the signs of drowning

It’s important to know what a child in distress looks like. Kids drown silently and quickly, often when they are vertical in the water with their heads tipped back. Unlike what you see in movies, a child rarely splashes, flails their arms, or yells for help.

Also, know the signs of dry drowning, which happens after a child exits the water. Those can include shallow or labored breathing, coughing, vomiting, fatigue or excessive sleepiness, and behavioral changes.

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. But keep it in your bag so you won’t get distracted. 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.

Consider swim lessons a health care priority

Even if you don’t live close to water, your child will likely 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 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, MD, who is chair of the AAP Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention, the group that authored the statement.

If you’re not sure what that means for your kid, ask their health care provider for guidance. Then, when it’s time, get lessons on the calendar pronto. “The goal with very young children is to make them comfortable in the water so that when they are developmentally ready, they can learn and use skills that could be lifesaving,” says Stephen Langendorfer, PhD, professor emeritus of kinesiology at Bowling Green State University, in Ohio, and who sits on the scientific advisory council for the American Red Cross.

Learn CPR

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, or order a CPR party kit to learn these skills at home.

Even if a child doesn’t need CPR after being submerged, having water in their 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,” says Dr. Smith.

Know any amount of water can be a risk

A child can drown in less than 2 inches of water. Even the teensiest wading pool requires constant supervision and should be drained and placed well out of reach when it’s not being used.

And as tempting as those large, inflatable pools look in the store, they often hold thousands of gallons of water that can’t easily be drained. In fact, they have become a particular threat: A study published in Pediatrics found they pose a significant risk, especially among children under 5. If you do have one, surround it with a fence, cover it when not in use, and remove the steps or ladder once swim time is over.

Never rely on floating devices

Don’t depend on water wings, floaties, inner tubes, or noodles. These are pool toys. According to the AAP, small children and nonswimmers should always wear a well-fitting U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when they are near water and when swimming.

Swimming Safety Tips at Home

If you have any type of pool at home, this is what experts recommend to keep your kids safe.

Always supervise kids near water

Never leave kids alone by the pool or in it. Inside your home, be sure to empty buckets, install locks on toilets, and stay with your child during bath time. Any body of water demands serious attention, whether it’s on your property, your neighbor’s, or a playmate’s.

“I wish there were more intensity behind this conversation and more focus on the drowning epidemic,” says Miller. “Had I been exposed to the reality that it is a silent killer and happens mostly during non-swim times, I feel I would have been better equipped to keep my daughter safe.”

Hire an expert to check on your pool

When opening your pool for the season, hire a certified professional to check that the pool’s safety cover is working properly, the electrical components are up to snuff, and the fencing is solid, with self-closing and self-latching gates functioning as they should, says Alan Korn, executive director of Abbey’s Hope Charitable Foundation, which works to prevent child drownings and encourage active supervision in and around water.

Ask your service provider to check for and repair loose screws or rough edges that could catch bathing suits or hair and possibly trap swimmers. It’s also critical—and required under the federal law the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act—to check for displaced or absent drain covers. “An exposed pool drain can entrap a swimmer at the bottom of a pool or spa or literally suck the insides out of the body,” says Korn. (More on that below.)

Install a fence

While a four-sided fence that separates a pool from the house and backyard may not seem “pretty,” the aesthetics of drowning are far uglier. Levi Hughes died at a home with three-sided fencing, which may have protected neighboring kids from entering the pool area but still allowed a child to slip out a back door and into the water.

“I have to live the rest of my life with the guilt that I could have prevented him from dying,” says Hughes. “But this isn’t about our regret and heartache. Drowning doesn’t happen to the parents; it happens to the child. Levi will never trick-or-treat again and will never turn 4 years old.”

Although experts recommend four-sided fencing around a pool perimeter, it is not legally required in the U.S. In Australia, where nearly all states now require four-sided, non-climbable pool fencing, pool-drowning deaths dropped by half from 2011 to 2015 after the implementation of the law. In other words, law or no law, you should invest in four-sided isolation fencing if you own a pool. And when you meet parents of potential playmates, suss out if they have water on their property and whether it’s properly fenced with a self-latching gate. No four-sided isolation fence? No playdates at that house.

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.

Build layers of protection

The inside of your playroom looks like a cyclone hit it? No biggie. But if you have a pool, be crazy-compulsive about keeping it shipshape. When the water is clean and clear, it’s easier to see what’s happening under the surface, and you also reduce the risk of waterborne illnesses.

After swim time, collect and stow all toys and floats, which can be tempting to curious kids. You should also install and maintain a pump to prevent potentially deadly puddling on your pool cover, and make sure to keep a lifesaving ring, floats, and a shepherd’s crook reaching pole in the same spot at all times.

“Kids are fast, curious, and mobile,” says Dr. Hoffman. In-ground pool alarms, motorized pool safety covers, dead-bolt locks on back doors, four-sided pool fences, and Coast Guard–approved flotation devices are all good and vital options that can stand between your family and devastating tragedy.

“You should be able to hear a buzzing noise every time the door or gate opens,” says Tom Krzmarzick, MD, division chief of emergency medicine at the Children’s Medical Center of Dayton. It’s safest to also invest in a sonar device that sets off an alarm when something enters the water; if that isn’t practical, get a floating alarm that goes off if the water is disturbed.

If possible, keep the pool covered when it’s not in use

Cover your pool with a rigid safety cover (preferably a motorized one) whenever you’re not using it, even during swimming season. With an above-ground pool, remove ladders and steps when they’re not in use. Make sure the cover fits securely over the pool’s entire surface. Otherwise, a child may get under it and become trapped.

Think of CPR safety

Along with learning CPR, it’s a good idea to also buy an all-weather sign with CPR instructions to hang on the inside of your pool gate. And be sure to print your home’s address on it in permanent marker in case anyone needs to call an ambulance. 

Don’t leave toys in the pool area

Your child might run after a ball, for example, and trip. “I remember a 2-year-old who rode his tricycle into the pool area and fell off into the water,” says Rohit Shenoi, MD, an emergency-room physician at Texas Children’s Hospital, in Houston.

Also, don’t use chemical dispensers in the pool that look like toys. Kids may try to grab one and accidentally fall into the pool.

Avoid entrapment

Children can die in a pool or hot tub by getting sucked down and trapped in a drain. The good news: Since the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act went into effect in December 2008, there have been no drain entrapment-related deaths involving children in public pools and spas. This federal law mandates that all public pools must have anti-entrapment drain covers installed. But always be aware of drain condition at your neighborhood pool. If you spot a broken or missing drain cover, ask your pool operator if your pool or spa drains are compliant with the Pool and Spa Safety Act.

If you have a home swimming pool, ask your pool service representative to update your drains and other suction fitting with anti-entrapment drain covers and other devices or systems. Your pool should also have at least two drains for each pump, which will reduce the powerful suction if one drain is blocked, says Dr. Shenoi. Single-drain pools, hot tubs, whirlpools, and spas should have safety vacuum-release systems, which automatically release the suction if a drain is blocked.

Other smart tips to follow: Watch your child closely and make sure they don’t swim or play near drains. Tie their hair back or have them wear a bathing cap, and make sure their swimsuit fits snugly, with no loose ties.

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