While drowning is 100 percent preventable, nearly 300 children under the age of five drown in pools and spas every year. According to Eric Lupton, Ppresident of Life Saver Pool Fence,the number one way to prevent drownings is through proactive parent supervision, but most drownings occur when a child was thought to be in the house but slipped outside without anyone knowing.
In 77 percent of accidental drownings, the child had been seen five minutes or less before being missed. Here are ten tips for keeping kids safe.
1. Install high locks. Put locks on doors and windows that are high and out of reach. Some drownings happen because a parent didn’t know their toddler figured out the door knob. Don’t forget sliding glass doors as well.
2. Get door and window alarms.Families should install simple contact alarms for doors and windows that lead to the pool. The ring-type alarm sounds every time a door opens, alerting an adult.
3. Eliminate doggy doors. Pet doors should be permanently sealed off. Toddlers are known to mimic their pets and may follow them right out the doggy door and into the pool area, putting both child and pet at risk.
4. Install a pool safety fence. One of the most reassuring steps is installing a pool fence. Fences should be at least 4feet tall and have a self-closing, self-latching gate.
5. Use pool alarms.Surface pool alarms will trigger a sound inside the home when the water’s surface is broken. However, a small child could quietly walk down the pool steps and slip under water without setting off the alarm, so they cannot be used alone.
6. Child immersion alarms.When you first move into a home, consider using a wearable immersion alarm, like the Safety Turtle, which triggers an alarm inside the house if the sensor gets wet. This is especially important when you are unfamiliar with the area.
7. Assign water watchers.When children are in the pool, assign one person as a designated water watcher. Active supervision means sitting close to the pool with your full attention on the child/children. Do a regular headcount, and never leave young kids unattended.
8. Clear out pool area after swimming.Always remove pool floats after swimming, especially toys that attract children to the water or pool area. Also, make sure to move any tables or chairs away from the pool fence so they cannot be used to climb over.
9. Invest in swimming lessons. All children should receive swimming lessons. Some organizations even offer training for infants to roll over and float, and to swim to the edge of the pool in case they fall in.
10. Learn CPR. Every adult should be trained in CPR. Check out community centers for classes. This training can make the difference between life, permanent disability, and death.