As summer approaches pool owners must remind themselves to be ever vigilant to prevent the catastrophe of a child drowning or serious pool-related injury.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death of children under the age of 5 in California, Arizona and Florida. Each year more than 300 children in this age group drown in residential swimming pools, usually a pool owned by their family. More than 2,000 children in this group are treated in hospital emergency rooms for submersion injuries.
These statistics are real in Northern California. As the hot summer weather approaches, families, friends and neighbors often gather in backyards for informal get-togethers. Often there is a pool where the children are left free to swim and play. Adults may be socializing, barbequing, or attending to a simple chore, such as answering the phone, when catastrophe occurs.
Following some simple safety precautions could prevent such a mishap from occuring during your gathering:
1. Never leave a child unsupervised near a pool. During social gatherings, appoint a “designated watcher” to sit poolside with undivided attention to young children in or about the pool. Distracted or preoccupied adults put children at risk.
2. If a child is missing, check the pool first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability. Go to the edge of the pool and scan the entire pool, bottom and surface, as well as the pool area.
3. Do not allow a young child in the pool without an adult.
4. Do not consider a child “drown proof” because he has had swim lessons. Children must be closely watched while swimming.
5. Do not use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision.
6. Keep rescue equipment by the pool.
7. Remove toys from in and around the pool when it is not in use. Toys attract young children.
8. Never prop open the gate to a pool barrier.
Remember, a few minutes of thought and planning about the potential dangers that pools present to children can save a family from a life-time of guilt, regret and remorse.