Guest Author - Lisa Polovin Pinkus
I live in Arizona where the summer months are filled with days of hours and hours of swimming. There is not much else to do comfortably in the summer heat! Many homes in Arizona have backyard pools too, so swim safety is of dire importance. August is Drowning Impact Awareness Month in the state of Arizona. The National Drowning Prevention Alliance honors National Water Safety Month in May, but water safety is important throughout the whole year.
Children should always be supervised in the pool. Their supervision should be active – which means the supervisor’s eyes should constantly be on the children. Distractions – like talking on the phone, eating a meal, or running in the house to change the laundry – should be avoided. Even children who are strong swimmers should be supervised and should never swim alone. Swim accidents do not discriminate and can happen to anyone.
When you are outside enjoying the pool, make sure you have a phone nearby in case of emergency. Other safety precautions include ensuring that your CPR certification is up to date. Make sure all swimmers know the rules at your pool. Where is jumping safe? Is your pool deep enough for diving? How strong a swimmer does one have to be to go into the deeper water?
Swimming lessons are a good idea for all children, but should not be relied upon as a safety device. Effective swim lessons will not only teach children how to swim but will also show them what to do in an emergency. Children should have the proper tools (ie – knowing how to swim), but supervision is still a must!
Pool fences or covers should be installed when pools are not in use, and they should always be used. “I’ll do it later” is no excuse. Close and lock your pool as soon as you are done using it. Make sure your pool fence is high enough to prevent growing or climbing children from getting over it. Gates should be self-latching and self-closing to help guard against human error. Even when children are older, make sure they know they do not open the pool gate without an adult’s permission.
The area around the outside of the pool should be kept clear. Chairs, flowerpots, and other possible climbing items should be far away from the pool. Children are clever and curious, and anything can become a climbing device – and a danger - in mere seconds.
Make sure your children know the pool rules. If they violate the rules or don’t listen when they are told to get out, there should be a consequence. The water is an area where parents must command respect for the rules. There is no playing around.
In 2009, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) published data that showed nearly 300 children, five and younger, drown in pools or spas each year. In addition, the CPSC – in that same year – stated that 3000 more children suffered from pool or spa-related injuries leading to emergency room visits.
The pool is the perfect place to cool off from the summer heat – especially here in the desert - but safety should always come first! Make sure you are prepared.