A study conducted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has shown that an estimated 70% of the children who drown are under the age of five. Janet Van Kirk, Human Resources Director for Van Kirk and Sons Swimming Pools and Spas, as well as advocate for swimming pool safety, notes children have to be protected when in or near water. She says, "Young children are curious and have not developed a sense of danger. Although the best protection is supervision, we know it is not always possible to watch your child's every move." Van Kirk adds, "When you are going to have a swimming pool in your backyard, make sure special precautions are taken to ensure your child's safety and your peace of mind."
The following swimming pool safety tips may prevent your child from falling into the pool and drowning or suffering an injury:
- Supervision is the best form of child safety. There should always be an adult present when children are near water. Never let them swim by themselves.
- Designate one adult to watch the pool area at all parties/functions, alternating every 15 minutes.
- Make sure toys are cleared from the swimming pool area.
- Build a fence around the pool area and secure with gate latches. Many times children roam out of the house and are attracted to a toy floating in the pool. In an attempt to obtain the toy, the child falls into the water. Also, tell neighbors with backyard pools to keep their gates locked.
- Learn Infant and Child Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and install an emergency phone line near the pool in the event that 911 must be called. In fact, make sure that anyone who is watching your child is certified in CPR and First Aid. Contact your fire department, hospital, American Heart Association or Red Cross for class offerings.
- Lifesaving equipment should always be kept in the pool area and preferably hanging from the fence. Ropes, poles and life preservers are most common.
- Teach kids to swim. Swimming lessons train youngsters on valuable lifesaving skills. They learn how to kick, float, hand strokes and, most importantly, breathing techniques as well as the art of holding their breath while submerged under water. Natalie Turner, a certified dive instructor and former lifeguard, says, "Children as young as six months should become familiar with the water. Water exploration enables kids to develop their cognitive and motor skills. Swimming lessons will provide them with all the skills needed to survive in water."
Following these guidelines will allow you and your children to enjoy the water, especially in the hot summer months when pools are so inviting.