Keeping Afloat Around the Pool
With drownings being the fourth leading cause of death of children under five years of age in the US, and the leading cause of death in some states such as California, Florida and Arizona, enough can not be said or read on this subject. Those statistics coming from the US Product Safety Commission leads us to believe that with all we read on swimming pool safety especially during the summer months one would think this type of injury or death would be eliminated altogether. Unfortunately it is not.
According to the USPSC, an estimated 260 children under five years of age drown each year in residential swimming pools and spas. According to the Commission ďan estimated 3,000 children under age five are treated in hospital emergency rooms following submersion accidents each year. Some of these submersion accidents result in permanent brain damage.Ē As we move into the hottest month of summer (unless youíre on the other side of the world where it may be cold!) we want to put out a few reminders regarding water safety excerpted from our book Paranoid Sistersí Child Safety Made Easy.
- Children must be constantly supervised by an adult when swimming. The more people in or around the pool, the more supervision necessary. You need to assign one person who is dedicated to watching the children. If that person leaves, they need to pass that duty along to another responsible adult (one that can swim).
- Installing an alarm on doors leading to the pool area is a good practice.
- Pools should have a five foot high fence completely around them with a locking gate or a safety cover.
- Teach and enforce basic pool rules - No eating, running or glassware by the pool.
- Keep objects not in use out of the pool - Children will go in the water if they want something they see floating in it.
- Take a cordless phone by the pool so you wonít be tempted to run in the house for just a minute.
- Remove small children from the pool if adults want to roughhouse.
- Floating devices may give you and your child a false sense of security.
- Donít force children to participate - Let them adjust to this new environment slowly. Your child may be more comfortable if other children are in the pool with them.
- Enroll your child in swim lessons - Opinions vary on the age for this, ask your pediatrician his/her thoughts.
- Drain childrensí pools and turn them upside down when not in use.
- Learn CPR
Also, donít rely on lifeguards at public pools to watch over your children. They need your help as they are supervising many children at once.
Diving injuries can result in quadriplegia, paralysis below the neck. The USPSC gives the following precautions to divers:
- Never dive into above-ground pools. They are too shallow.
- Don't dive from the side of an in-ground pool. Enter the water feet first.
- Dive only from the end of the diving board and not from the sides.
- Dive with your hands in front of you and always steer up immediately upon entering the water to avoid hitting the bottom or sides of the pool.
- Don't dive if you have been using alcohol or drugs because your reaction time may be too slow.
- Improper use of pool slides presents the same danger as improper diving techniques. Never slide down head first; slide down feet first only.
Remember, too, that we set the example for our children. If we follow the rules, it will be easier for them to follow them also. The bottom line is, you canít be too cautious around water. It may seem that these tips are only important during warmer months, however, pool safety all year around is important. Just because youíre not swimming in the pool in January doesnít mean that it isnít a drowning hazard. Enjoy your summer, stay cool and stay afloat!
About the authors: Lisa Carter and Lori Marques are real sisters and California natives. Together, they have five children. Their book, Child Safety Made Easy, is a compilation of three years of research on death and injury to children and is available in English and Spanish. Also known as The Paranoid Sisters, Carter and Marques frequently speak at parent conferences, on radio programs and are resources for newspaper and magazine articles. Visit their site at http://paranoidsisters.com.