Seven important tips for pool safety this summer
Staying safe in the water hinges on close parent supervision, Park Nicollet medical director says
Bloomington, Minn. – June 28, 2016 – Parents of small children should be watchful and on high alert when their children are swimming in pools this summer, according to Park Nicollet Regional Medical Director and Chair of Pediatrics Anne Edwards, MD.
An average of 10 people die every day in the United States from the non-boating related drownings, and 20 percent of them are children, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An additional 10 children per day nearly drown and need emergency department care for their injuries, some of which can result in severe brain damage and long-term disabilities.
Practicing in the Twin Cities since 2001, Dr. Edwards has seen pool-related tragedy strike locally multiple times. Just last week, a 9-year-old boy nearly drowned at a pool party in Shorewood. Last year, two boys nearly drowned in an abandoned pool filled with rainwater at an apartment complex in St. Paul.
“Every drowning and near drowning is heartbreaking for all involved,” Dr. Edwards said. “Close supervision is the key to preventing water tragedies; if children are left unattended, even a few inches of water can be dangerous.”
Dr. Edwards wants to remind parents in the community of the following safety measures:
- Designate a water watcher every single time children are in or near the water. The water watcher should know CPR and how to swim, and watching the pool should be this adult’s only task – not something he or she also does while reading, texting, socializing or drinking alcohol. If you take on this role, be sure to have a phone close by at all times in case you need to call for help, and if a child is missing, check the pool first.
- Learn CPR. CPR classes are available at various community locations through the American Heart Association and American Red Cross.
- Teach your children how to swim. Young or inexperienced swimmers should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket, and you should always stay in arm’s reach of infants and toddlers.
- Avoid inflatable swimming aids (e.g. floaties). These may give a false sense of security for both children and parents and are no substitute for U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets.
- Enforce safety rules. HealthPartners and Park Nicollet recommend: “No diving,” “Stay away from drain covers,” “Always swim with a buddy” and “Walk – don’t run – by the pool.”
- Check that the pool has safe and intact drain covers. Don’t use a pool if a drain cover is missing or broken. Children’s hair, limbs or swimsuits can get stuck in a drain or suction opening, which can trap them underwater.
- Make sure the pool in your yard or neighborhood is completely surrounded and secured by a proper fence. The fence should be at least 4 feet high, not chain-link and have no footholds or handholds that could help a child climb it. Latches to the fence’s gate should be out of children’s reach. We also recommend installing an audible gate alarm that will alert you inside the house if the gate is opened.
HealthPartners is the largest consumer-governed, non-profit health care organization in the nation with a mission to improve health and well-being in partnership with members, patients and the community. For more information, visit healthpartners.com.