Every year over 300 kids under five years old die from drowning in local neighborhood pools. In some states in the nation drowning is the leading cause of accidental and in-home death in children under five. Frighteningly, at the time of many drowning incidents, most victims were being supervised by one or both parents. Almost half of the victims were last seen in the home; a quarter were last seen in the yard or on the porch or patio and a third were in or around the pool before the accident. Over two thirds of drowning victims under 5 were never expected to be at or in the pool at the time of their accidents.
Avoiding pool drowning is not easy and takes diligence on the part of parents and care-givers. There are a number of things that can be done to help avoid pool accidents. First, make sure any doors and windows leading out to a pool are closes and locked. Test your children to see whether or not they can open the locking devices. Just last week my six year old boy walked to the front door of our home and opened the dead bolt on the door and opened it for a total stranger. I did not realize that he could reach the lock to open. Security means not only locking the door, but keeping it locked. Be diligent in locking the doors and windows upon closing them and keeping them closed. Consider an alarm on exterior doors that warns adults if the door is opened.
Yards containing pools should be fenced and gated and all gates should be secured with an automatic closing device such as a spring which automatically closes and secures the gate when it is released. This type of device will help to keep outside visitors from unexpectedly entering your pool.
From in the yard, there are numerous types of pool enclosures including covers and safety fences that go directly over and around the pool itself. Be cautious that some pool covers can be more dangerous than none at all. What we are talking about here are pool covers that go over the entire pool and ratchet closed over the edges. These covers are designed to support the weight of a human on top of the cover and over the pool such that if a child fell on top of the covered pool they would not even get wet. By contrast, covers that simply lay on top of the water can be death traps in which a potential drowning victim could become stuck in the water and under the cover and not be able to make his way out or be seen or reached to be rescued.
Pool safety fences can be very helpful as well. They offer limited protection keeping things and people out of the immediate vicinity of the pool itself. However, just as a fence keeps people out, it can also keep people in. Safety fences seem to limit the walking space immediately around the pool itself and may lead to an accidental slip or fall into the pool. Also, if someone is inside the fence and falls into the pool, a rescue attempt could be hampered by the fence itself.
Adults must be diligent when it comes to pool safety. Here are just a few tips for pool safety:
- Never leave children unattended in the area of a pool.
- Never allow children (or adults) to swim unattended.
- If a child is found missing, remember your basic first aid rules: Rescue first. Check the pool first for the child. If you don't get the victim out of the pool, you can't save him.
- Keep rescue equipment accessible to the pool area and make sure you and your care-givers know how to use it. Does your nanny know how to swim?
- Learn basic first aid and CPR. Seek out a local Red Cross training center and take the class.
- Teach pool safety to care givers at your home.
- Teach children how to be pool safe as early as possible. A few seconds above water can be invaluable in a rescue situation.
- Never rely on floatation devices as lifesaving equipment or as a substitute for supervision.
- Never, ever leave your common sense at the door.
Please be diligent and be pool safe. If you have questions about pool accidents or any other accident or injury case, contact me:
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