Going to the pool to escape the summer heat?
According to the Pool Safely campaign and the Ohio Department of Health, drowning is the number one cause of unintentional death among children ages 1-4. Drownings happen quickly and are often silent — It’s not like in the movies, where children are portrayed as splashing and yelling for help. Fatal drownings are preventable, but to prevent these tragedies, we need everyone to always follow simple water safety steps.
In addition to permitting and ensuring that all public pools in Meigs County are up to state codes, the Meigs County Health Department is promoting pool safety by helping spread the word about Pool Safely. Pool Safely is a national public education campaign from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Parents and kids should follow these simple safety steps:
- Designate a Water Watcher: Watch children every time they are in or around water — supervision is one of the most important things you can do to keep children safe. Designate a Water Watcher — this is an adult whose only job is to watch children when they’re in the pool. It’s important that they’re not distracted by texting or phone calls.
- Teach Kids to Swim: While supervision is critical, it’s also important for children to learn how to swim. Kids who can’t swim face a much higher risk of drowning, so sign your children up for swimming lessons. Locally, the London Pool in Syracuse offers swim lessons.
- Learn CPR: While your children are learning how to swim, it’s important for you to learn CPR. In the case of an emergency, bystander CPR can often make a real difference while you’re waiting for emergency first responders to arrive at the scene. For information on CPR training contact the American Red Cross at www.redcross.org.
- Check Drain Covers: Be sure that the drain covers are not lose or broken. If you own a pool and you’re not sure if your covers are safe, a pool technician can let you know. Teach children to stay away from drains.
- Install proper fencing with self-closing, self-latching gate: A 48-inch-tall fence is the standard height. The fence should completely enclose the pool or pool area. If a door way opens up into a backyard with a pool, consider having an alarm installed on that door to sound when the door is opened. Also, be aware that small children could crawl through a pet door to access a backyard pool. We must prevent young children from being able to get near the water if an adult isn’t nearby.
- Teach kids to never swim alone: This is the tried and true “buddy system” that has been the standard for years. Be aware of your buddy at all times while swimming. Be knowledgeable of any health issues your buddy may have, such as asthma or seizures, that could affect their ability to swim and be on the lookout for those situations to arise.
Swimming pool and spa drownings are completely preventable accidents. If you are fortunate enough to have these amenities in your back yard, please take care to ensure that proper safety measures are in place. If you have children, make sure they know how to be safe around water. Visit Poolsafely.gov for a free game app for kids to help teach them about pool safety. You can also find more information for adults and take the Poolsafely pledge to make sure your family is safer around water this year. Adult and child versions of the Poolsafely pledge are available. This great educational tool is free and available to everyone at Poolsafely.gov.
Dawn Keller specializes in environmental health with the Meigs County Health Department.