As you know, water safety is paramont this time of year so I want to make sure your children are safe this summer. Drowning is the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 1- 4 and the second leading cause of unintentional death for children under the age of 14. Over 390 children die each year in their own backyard pools...tragically drowning is typically a SILENT event.
The first thing all pools need is a at least 4 foot tall fence surrounding all 4 sides of the pool. Now is the time to make sure that not only is your pool fenced but that it also is “tuned up” after the winter. That means that the self latching gate is working, that all pool furniture and toys are moved away from the fence in order that children cannot climb up and over a fence, and you might even add a pool alarm that goes off if anyone enters the pool without supervision.
If you have a door from the house to the pool there should be an alarm on the door as well as having a fence around the pool…this ensures “layers of protection”..the more layers to keep your child away from an unsupervised pool the better! Children are clever, fast and tenacious.
Now once you decide to enjoy a day poolside you need to have several things on hand which include a portable phone, a flotation ring or hook, and always an adult within arms reach of a toddler or young child who has not yet learned to swim. If there are several “non swimmers” in the pool with only 1 adult, it is best to put all of the children in an approved flotation device as well. The adult who is supervising the pool should ideally know CPR. I think that all “pool owners” should take CPR.
The person in charge of watching a child or children in the pool need to be identified and vigilant. That means staying off a cell phone or any electronics that might be distracting. It is also not the time for adults to be partying and alcohol is discouraged.
Most children over the age of 4 years are ready for swimming lessons, but the AAP does recognize that there are some younger children between 1 -4 years who may be ready for swimming lessons, especially those that are frequently around water ( home pool, lake , beach). Each child will develop at differently. Even a young child who has had swim lessons should not be considered “drown-proof” and never be unsupervised.
Lastly, don’t forget the sunscreen and remember to re-apply frequently to both you and your child!