During a season of fun, family, food, and freedom from school and work, we often don’t think of what can happen when we’re busy relaxing and lose sight of safety. The kids have stashed the books for eight weeks, that family vacation that’s been planned for months is finally in sight and the last thing on your mind is what could go wrong in an instant.
Residential drowning deaths each year are rising
The staggering reality is that, according to the Red Cross, 200 drowning deaths a year occur right in our own backyards swimming pools. Safety while swimming is something we all must take care to remain diligent about, especially when there are small children in the home.
Mom’s old adage “I have eyes behind my head!” doesn’t apply to pool safety
Supervision should take precedent over anything else if the kids are in or around the pool. But what happens when mom and dad look away for a second to pour a drink, grab a snack, or answer the door? What precautions need be taken to ensure that the kids are safe no matter what?
Because mom doesn’t actually have “eyes behind her head”, this article is your guide to the precautions, preparedness, and prevention tips you need to keep the whole family safe as summer approaches!
Secure, self-closing, self-latching
The first and most important summertime safety measure families can take is to install a secure, self-closing or self-latching gate around the swimming pool. Whether you have young children or are a grandparent who has the grandkids over to enjoy the South Florida sun, proper pool fencing is the #1 thing that helps prevent or even eliminate the risk of drowning accidents and wrongful deaths each year.
Children should never be left unattended but should a child wander away from the group and find themselves near a swimming pool, things can quickly turn from bad to worse. Swimming pools without proper fencing pose a liability for the homeowner should the child fall into the water and in the worst-case scenario, drown as a result.
Swimming classes can be fun for the whole family
Enrolling the family in age-appropriate swimming lessons to strengthen swimming skills can prevent accidental drownings. The Red Cross offers learn-to-swim courses for children. Make it a family affair and reinforce skills the stronger swimmers in the family are already familiar with.
Rules keep everyone safe, the fun ongoing
A family day at the pool can turn catastrophic in an instant. Parents should enforce ground rules for children such as “swim with a sibling” or “no running” and “no diving”. These rules should be universal for swimming at home, at grandma’s, and in public pools.
Age appropriate response to water-related accidents can help prevent drowning, injury
Families should establish age-appropriate responses for water-related accidents should they arise. Water-safety classes provided by the Red Cross can help parents familiarize themselves with helpful, life-saving responses to utilize in the event of a pool-related accident.
CPR is also something families should familiarize themselves with. Each member of the family should be given age-appropriate introductions on what to do in the event that someone in the group requires an emergency response.
Some things parents should establish with children of every age:
- How to contact 911
- How to perform CPR (when the child is old enough to fully understand the process)
- Water safety measures
- Pool-appropriate behavior (no running, no diving, no pushing others into the water)
- Children are not to swim without an adult present whether they are at home or at a friend’s home
- If an adult is not present, children should not be around a swimming pool
No supervision, no swimming
Children should NEVER be left alone near a swimming pool. Parents should be within arm’s reach of young children at all times. This should be established with children at home and at friend’s residences. Children should be educated by their parents not to swim unattended at anyone’s house––no matter what. They should be instructed not to approach a swimming pool that isn’t gated if a parent or guardian isn’t present.
Families should also establish the importance of never swimming in large bodies of water without the presence of a lifeguard.
All warnings about tides, sharks, and rip currents should be heeded with utmost care. At public swimming facilities NO DIVING! and NO RUNNING! signs should never be ignored.
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