The majority of drownings happen while adults are present. Pool watchers need to be solely focused on the kids. No smartphones, no reading, no alcohol. Simply put: no distractions. You can create a group of adults for this and appoint shifts to make pool watching more manageable. If a babysitter is watching your children or takes them to a public pool, make sure they are fully briefed and responsible enough to follow directions.
Don’t Leave Children Unattended
Never allow a child to be left unattended near or around water. Always make sure someone has an eye on the kids.
No Swimming Alone.
No matter how experienced a swimmer they may be, never let a kid swim alone. Have a supervisor or make sure they follow the buddy system. Someone has to be present.
Get Swimming Lessons
Swimming is a vital and life saving skill. Tragedy can be prevented by teaching children how to swim and how to protect themselves if they are in danger in the water. Swimming lessons are offered at local gyms, YMCA, and rec centers.
Keep Emergency Equipment Close
Always have emergency equipment readily available. This includes: life vests, first aid kit, rescue equipment, and a phone. It’s also invaluable to have an emergency switch nearby to shut off the pool.
Knowing CPR and de-escalating a situation while you wait for paramedics to arrive might save a life. Seconds and minutes are the difference between life and death or severe brain damage in a drowning situation. Classes are offered at hospitals, community centers, or by contacting agencies like the Red Cross.
Check Your Pool
If your child EVER goes missing, check the pool first. Many drowning incidents occur when the family isn’t swimming. A child will wander out of the home and into the family pool without anyone noticing.
Alarm Your Doors
Prevent devastating wandering incidents by installing alarms on your house and pool doors.
Build a Fence
Fences aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing option, but having one can save a child’s life. Install a fence at least four feet tall, or tall enough so that a child can’t climb over or unlock it. Encourage children not to enter fenced areas.
Cover Your Pool
Covers are more aesthetically pleasing than fences. They’re also necessary for pool maintenance and to avoid issues caused by weather. Make sure pool or spa covers work properly and are in place.
Keep Your Pool Clean and Clear
Make sure the pool and its surrounding area is clean and clear of any toys or debris. If you use blow up pools, empty them of water and deflate after every use. Children won’t be tempted to wander off and play in the pool if toys aren’t present or the pool has been torn down.
Maintain the Pool
Test and adjust chemical levels to avoid rashes, earaches, or serious disease.
Drowning is Silent
Contrary to popular belief or how drowning is portrayed in media, drowning is a silent action. Oftentimes people don’t realize that victims are drowning. Splashing and noise-making may be signs that the pre-cursor to drowning is taking place, but people who are drowning are physically incapable of calling for help. Biology’s natural response is for these people to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. This is an attempt to leverage their body enough to lift their mouths out of water to breathe. A drowning struggle usually only lasts between 20-60 seconds, and movements look like a dog paddle. Victims appear to be climbing, hyperventilating or gasping, and their heads are tilted back with open mouths.
Spot the Drowning Child* is a great online resource to help you spot a drowning incident when one is occurring.
*Article by Mario Vittone
Videos by The Genesis Project
Design by Francisco Saldaña
Dodge the Drain
Always make sure the pool you are swimming in has an anti-entrapment drain cover. Drain suction can pull swimmers underwater and cause severe injury or death. Laws exist to promote anti-entrapment drains in pools, spas, and public water, but your home may not have one. If you or your child have long hair, tie it back before swimming. Tell children to be aware of drains and other outlets. Never play near drains or suction outlets in a pool, hot tub, or spa. Hair, body parts, clothing, et cetera, can get in a drain opening and pull someone under water. Know where emergency shut off switches are. If a drain is broken or missing, don’t get in the pool.
Death by electric shock is electrocution. This can happen on grass or a pool deck—anywhere with a wet surface. According to CPSC, 14 deaths due to electrocutions in swimming pools have occurred from 2003 to 2014. Causes of electricity can be underwater lights, any electrical pool equipment, outlets or switches, overhead power lines, or any electrical product that is near water. If you feel a tingling sensation, muscle cramps, or peculiar limited motion in the pool, move away from the area and leave the pool. Exit the pool without touching metal ladders. Avoid all metal.
This is simple advice that you’ll see at any public swimming pool, but it’s very important and needs to be followed. The area surrounding a pool can become slippery when wet and injuries can occur by falling on land or in the pool.
Don’t Dive Into a Shallow Pool
Diving into a pool that doesn’t have enough water is extremely dangerous and can lead to severe injury.
Don’t Swim After Eating
This rule is mainly about common sense. If you’ve had a large meal it’s wise to let the digestion system get going before any strenuous activity, similar to how you would approach running or playing a sport after eating.
Check the Weather
Always make sure to check the weather before going out to swim. Water attracts lightning and the pool is one of the last places you want to be. A lightning strike to the pool can be fatal.
Stay Clean and Wash Up
Cleaning up before and after a swim can keep you and the pool germ free. Make sure to clean ears to avoid ear infections.
Every hour or so take a break. Have a snack, re-hydrate, and let your body cool down a little bit. And of course, don’t forget to re-apply sunscreen!
Enforce the Rules
It’s always hard to get children to listen, but being honest with them and helping them understand safety issues will go a long way. Tell them the rules and enforce them.