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Basic Pool Safety For Kids

Aug 17, 2007
When summer comes kidslove to dig out their swimsuits and head for the pool. Afternoons of swimming and splashing can be lots of fun but pool time fun can also result in accidents. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), each year nearly 350 children under the age of 5 drown in swimming pools. Another 2,600 are treated in emergency rooms for near-drowning incidents. So knowing how to protect your children and have them keep themselves save when around water is a big help.

Use these great tips I teach in my Keeping Kids Safe classes for basic family and pool safety year round:

1. Put Supervision First
Kids should never be left unattended around water. Whether you're at the lake, in your backyard pool, or at the neighborhood pool, young children need constant supervision. Don't rely on the watchful eye of the lifeguard, either. In a crowded pool of splashing, boisterous children, it's difficult for a lifeguard to monitor each child. Children can drown in a matter of minutes. Also, enforce rules about horseplay and never use floatation devices as a substitute for supervision.

2. Consider Safety Devices
Almost 80 percent of drowning and near-drowning incidents occur at home, according to the CPSC. If you own a pool, there are safety devices you can use to help protect your family. A fence should be your first line of defense. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, most children who drown in pools wander out of the house and fall into the pool. When choosing a fence, make sure it's at least five feet high with a self-closing, self-latching gate.
A motorized pool cover may also be used, but should not replace a fence. The cover should withstand the weight of two adults and a child in case someone falls onto the cover and need to be rescued. Because a child can drown in only a few inches of water, make sure that the cover is tight enough to prevent standing water. Never use a pool with its pool cover partially in place, because a child could become trapped underneath.

Pool owners may also consider alarms to alert them when a child has entered the pool area or fallen in the water. Door alarms can warn when a door leading to the pool is unexpectedly opened. Water disturbance alarms can detect when a child has fallen into the pool. Parents may also choose to invest in wristband alarms that signal a remote receiver if a child falls in the pool and gets the wristband wet. Remember, however, alarms are no substitute for proper supervision.

3. Rely on Your Senses
High-tech gizmos may help safeguard your children around water but don't forget about old-fashioned common sense. Consider these tips before your kids head for the water.

- Keep lifesaving equipment such as a shepherd's pole, life preserver and rope in the pool area.
- Keep a phone by the pool in case of emergency, and so you don't need to leave the pool area. A child can drown in the time it takes to answer the telephone
- Enroll your child in swimming lessons.
- Make sure that you and anyone who watches your children knows CPR.

Here are some additional tips to help keep your kids safe around your backyard pool:

1. Regularly check that the gate latches securely and that spring mechanisms work properly. Regularly oil the hinges and latches.

2. Don't allow children to play in the pool area. Remove all toys, tricycles - anything a child might want to get - from the vicinity.

3. Post CPR instructions and the 911 emergency number in the pool area.

4. Keep lifesaving equipment, such as a pole, life preserver and rope - in the pool area. Hang them from the fence so people won't trip on them.

5. Have a phone handy to the pool area. Do not answer the phone while your children are in the pool; use the phone only to call 911 should a problem occur.
About the Author
Joyce Jackson is an expert in the field of child safety and stranger danger protection with 30 years experience in Keeping Kids Safe. For his latest book and information see Keeping Kids Safe.
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