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To help keep kids safe this pool season, St. John’s Safe Kids Springfield recommends these precautions:
Always actively supervise children in and around water. Don’t leave, even for a moment. Stay where you can see, hear and reach kids in water. Avoid talking or texting on the phone, preparing a meal, reading and other distractions.
If you have a pool or spa, or if your child visits a home that has a pool or spa, it should be surrounded on all four sides by a fence at least four feet high with self-closing and self-latching gates. Studies estimate that this type of isolation fencing could prevent 50 to 90 percent of child drownings in residential pools.
Teach children about the dangers of swimming around drains. Children should not swim or play near any drain or suction outlet.
Make sure all pools and spas have compliant anti-entrapment drain covers and back up devices to ensure safer places for children to swim.
Know how to swim and enroll your kids in swimming lessons. Swimming lessons will not make your child immune to drowning, but it is an important skill for both adults and children to learn. There is no substitute for active supervision.
Don’t leave toys in or near the pool, where they could attract unsupervised kids. For extra protection, consider a pool alarm and alarms on the doors, windows and gates leading to the pool.
Don’t rely on inflatable swimming toys such as “water wings” and noodles; these toys should never be used in place of U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets. If your child can’t swim, stay within an arm’s reach of them.
Learn infant and child CPR. In less than two hours, you can learn effective interventions that can give a fighting chance to a child whose breathing and heartbeat have stopped. Contact organizations for information about local CPR classes.
Learn how to use rescue equipment.
Keep rescue equipment, a phone and emergency numbers nearby in case there is an emergency.
Even a near-drowning incident can have lifelong consequences. Kids who survive a near-drowning may have brain damage, and after four to six minutes under water – the damage is usually irreversible. Although 90 percent of parents say they supervise their children while swimming, many acknowledge that they engage in other distracting activities at the same time – talking, eating, reading or taking care of another child.
“A supervised child is in sight at all times with your undivided attention focused on the child,” said Greenlee. When there are children in or near the water, adults should take turns serving as the designated “Water Watcher,” paying undivided attention.
Visit www.safekids.org to download a free Water Watcher badge.