In the next few weeks we will be busy attending barbecues, family reunions and getting the boats ready for the lake. Summer is also the time when community and backyard pools open. We all want to have a fun time, but we also need to do so safely.
While drowning can happen at any time, incidents during May through August increase by 89% as compared to the rest of the year. According to Safe Kids, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional death for children 1-14 years of age.
Young children should never be left unattended in or around any open body of water. It only takes a few inches for a child to drown as children tend to not have depth perception. Keep all toys and other temptations away from the pool area. If something falls into a pool, from a leaf to a toy, the child will focus on it instead of the dangers of the water. Flotation devices such as arm floaties, kick boards, rafts or swim noodles give a false sense of security and should never be a substitution for proper supervision. Children should always wear USCG approved life jackets when they are around bodies of water or participating in water activities. A life jacket should fit the child properly so it doesn’t slip off when in the water.
Keep all windows and doors closed that face any backyard pools. You may want to consider installing alarms to alert if these are opened. Fencing around any backyard pools should be at least 5 foot high, non-climbable and equipped with self closing/ latching gates. Pools should also have fencing that separates the pool from the rest of the yard, preventing direct access. Check with your local city office to be in compliance with your community’s fencing ordinances.
Children should be enrolled in swimming lessons as soon as they can retain the skills. They should be taught to stay away from the suction outlets or drains of swimming pools. There have been many reported incidents of children being pulled into the strong suction and becoming entrapped. Another hazard around a pool is the wet and slippery deck and should be taught not to run to avoid falls. Also, teach them to always swim with a buddy.
Only swim in areas designated for swimming when visiting lakes, oceans and beaches. Country ponds and quarries are not safe designated swimming areas. Stay out of rivers, streams, lakes or oceans that have moving current or uneven floor surfaces. Never dive into any body of water when the depth is unknown or not knowing what may be hidden under the water’s surface.
If you are with a group of people, designate an adult to be the “water watcher” so you can give the swimmers your complete attention. You should never assume someone else is watching the children. Children should not be left unattended, for even a moment.
Other Water Hazards
Another water issue that should be addressed are Recreational Water Illnesses (RWI’s). They can be found in pools, hot tubs, water parks or beaches. Symptoms can include rashes, diarrhea or even more serious illnesses. RWI’s are often spread by children swallowing contaminated water. Pools, water parks or hot tubs that do not maintain proper disinfectant levels can cause skin or respiratory infections. It cannot be guaranteed that chlorine will maintain these proper levels due to the recycling of water within the systems. Open bodies of water such as lakes, ponds or beaches also contain run-off water from sewage spills, animal waste and rainfall. These waters are not disinfected and therefore may cause potential serious illnesses. If any designated swimming areas contain high bacteria levels, notices will be posted to alert the public of the dangers of entering these waters.
Unfortunately, incidents can happen very quickly. Knowing CPR, keeping a phone and first aid kit close by is imperative in the event of an emergency.
Enjoy a safe summer!
Guest Article provided by Karen ‘Kiki’ Joslin. Kiki owns and operates 411 Safety Shop & Training. She is a life-long resident of the Des Moines area. For over 25 years, Kiki has been ensuring proper care and safety for children of all ages in the Des Moines metro area. Her child safety advocacy experience allowed her to create this unique business. As an EMT-I, Child Passenger Safety Technician, and an in home child-proofer, Kiki brings her expertise under one roof to truly offer a one stop safety shop for parents to receive valuable advice and training. As a child care provider herself, Kiki has made it her mission to educate central Iowa’s child care providers and parents in CPR, first aid, and home safety.