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Swimming Pool Safety Tips
Tuesday, May 30, 2006 8:31:49 PM - Monroe Ohio

Home pools are becoming more common every day. You should be aware of the potentially hazardous properties of a pool.
Just how serious is the problem? Drowning is the number one cause of death in children under five in Florida, Arizona, and California with a ranking of number two for over a dozen other states. For every drowning there is an additional eleven near drowning incidents, according to government statistics; many of which result in totally disabling brain damage.

The majority of the parents involved were responsible people who thought this could never happen to their family. They were careful and had close supervision over their children. Many were in good income brackets, educated, and could afford nice homes with pools in family oriented communities. So we are literally talking about people who could live next door to you.

If drowning were a disease it truly would be referred to as an epidemic with all the public attention and awareness possible focused on an epidemic of such proportion.

A Commission investigation was directed at children under age five in Arizona, California, and Florida who had drown in home swimming pools. The results might help you better understand why drowning is still the number one killer for three states and stands at number two for the nation:

Who was in charge of supervision at the time of the drowning?

    • 69 % of the accidents occurred while one or both parents were responsible for supervision.
    • 10 % were adults other than parents.
    • 14 % were baby sitters.
    • 7 % were siblings.

What was the location of the pool drowning?

    • 65 % were in a pool owned by the family.
    • 22 % were at a relative’s home.
    • 11 % happened at a neighbor’s home.
    • 77 % of the children were last seen 5 minutes or less before being missed and subsequently discovered in the pool.
    • 46 % were last seen in the house prior to being found in the pool. Of these, 15 % were thought to be sleeping.
    • 23 % were last seen in the yard, porch or patio, not in the pool area. That’s a total of 69 % that were thought not to be in the pool area.
    • 31 % were last seen in the pool area.

What activity was the person responsible for supervision involved in at that time of the drowning?

    • 39 % were doing chores
    • 18 % were socializing
    • 9 % were busy on the telephone.

The suddenness of this type of accident and the results it yields is devastating to anyone it touches. When you think pool, think hard core. Even if this is not your personality, you must be an absolute dictator. Let your children know without any doubts, that it is you’re way or no way at all.

Layers of protection
Supervision is always your primary layer of protection, but as a study shows, 69 % of the drowning incidents occurred when parental supervision failed and there were no “backup layers” in use.

    • Access doors to the pool area with high locks are a secondary layer or protection
    • Alarms on access doors are another layer of protection
    • A pool safety barrier or fence separating the pool from your home and all access doors is another layer of protection
    • Water survival training for a child when they are capable of crawling or walking to the pool
    • CPR and your knowledge of rescue techniques are a final layer of protection should an accident occur.

The goal, with instituted layers of protection, is to come as close to a “fail safe” system of preventing drowning accidents as possible. Meaning that if there is a momentary lapse of supervision for whatever reason, we have several backup systems in place.

All must fail before a drowning can take place. A door has been unlocked or left open, the alarm system or device for the door has been turned off, the pool safety barrier has been left open, your child does enter the water, panics and does not attempt to utilize survival swim training, CPR is administered too late to save the child.

There can be no compromise on pool safety. You are dealing, literally, with a life or death situation.
There are a number of alarm systems available for pool monitoring. Check with the Consumer Product Safety Council on whatever product you plan to purchase and inquire as to the pros and cons of each device. Work with your child on water safety at an early age. The ability to negotiate a fall in the pool, to swim to the side, to exit the pool or at least pull themselves to the ledge could be life or death training for them. The age of your child and their ability to comprehend this information is a parent’s choice. Some would say that this training might make a child over confident of their abilities with relation to entering the pool; others say a child cannot understand what the information relates to. If you opt to perform water safety drills with your child, do them often. Information can easily be lost over a period of time such as winter or long periods between swimming. Studies have shown toddlers have drowned after receiving some type of water safety training just as studies have shown adults who could swim being involved in drowning incidents. What these studies cannot provide is how many toddlers did not drown because of their training, and were able to safely exit the pool following an accident.

Note just a few more hints on pool safety;

    • The time it takes to answer the phone could result in injury or death to your child.
    • Do not place tables or chairs near the edge of the pool.
    • Do not allow the pool area to be used as a playground for your toddler.
    • Make sure that the person responsible for the care of your child is aware of "your" rules, and is competent to supervise your child.
    • If your child is missing, check your pool first. Seconds may make the difference between life and death.
    • Keep a phone by the pool, call 911 as soon as possible if an emergency occurs, know CPR and keep all your layers of protection in place at all times.

The City of Monroe, Division of Fire wants you to have a fun filled summer. Be safe and remember that seconds can change years.

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