By Michael Murphy
Kids love pools. But a swimming pool can be a dangerous place for children and tragedy can strike in an instant. With summer on the way, now’s the perfect time to remember some basic guidelines for keeping your loved ones safe around the water.
First, make a habit of doing the following:
— Learn how to swim and teach your children how to swim. It’s not just a skill you can use to have fun and stay fit, it will help keep you and your children safe.
— Never take your eyes off a child around a pool, not even for an instant. And if a child is missing, check the pool first. Every second you save could be the difference between life and death.
— Make sure someone is assigned the task of watching the children during poolside gatherings. Don’t assume you will hear a child in trouble in the pool. Rarely does a child splash around before drowning – he or she simply sinks silently under water.
— If you’re leaving a babysitter in charge of the kids, make sure the babysitter understands the critical importance of constant supervision around the pool.
— If you’re taking the kids to a public pool or spa, make sure it complies with all local, state and federal safety regulations.
You can also take a number of proactive steps to make sure your loved ones stay safe:
You should install a 5-foot-high fence around your pool, one with a self-closing and self-latching gate. And never prop open the gate. Make a point of installing alarms on any doors or windows that open to a pool area. And avoid keeping any furniture next to the fence that a child might use to climb over the fence.
You should make sure your pool has an anti-entrapment drain cover that complies with all regulations. Each year dozens of children are injured or killed when an outdated pool drain sucks them down.
Last but not least, everyone in the family should learn CPR, especially if you have a pool in your backyard. Kids should learn it, too. Not long ago, two 13-year-old boys in National City used CPR to save the life of a 6-year-old boy who was spotted at the bottom of a pool at an apartment complex. The boy would not have survived had the two teens not been trained in CPR.
By following these basic guidelines, you and your family can enjoy a fun, safe and relaxing summer by the pool or at the beach.
—Michael Murphy is general manager of American Medical Response in San Diego.