Regretfully, there was a shocking number of drownings this past summer. Holiday Pools wants to ensure safe swimming and has included a few basic tips to keep you, as well as the youngest swimmers, safe this summer.
There have been at least 27 drownings in New Jersey this past summer. The circumstances vary considerably among the incidents, but in a shocking number of cases the victims were young children, surrounded by family and friends in home or resort pools -- what many would consider a normally safe environment.
But there are basic precautions that can be taken to greatly reduce the chances of a day at the pool, lake, river or the Shore ending in tragedy. Following are a few basic tips to keep you, as well as the youngest swimmers, safe.
It just takes a few minutes
Parents never think it will be their child to drown in their backyard swimming pool. Yet, hundreds of children drown in the U.S. each year — largely due to improper supervision, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a report this year on drownings in the U.S., and safety experts at Life Saver Pool Fence Inc. — one of the largest pool fence companies in the U.S. — created a parental safety guide based on the CPSC’s data to offer parents tips on how best to protect their children, and the most common factors that contribute to drownings and near drownings.
How big is the problem?
According to the CDC, about one in five drownings involve children 14 years old and younger. And, for every child who dies from drowning, another five are injured from near drownings, the CDC says.
Who is most at risk? Where do most drownings occur?
Children between the ages of 1 and 4 have the highest drowning rates, and most occur in home swimming pools. Drownings are the cause of more deaths among children between ages 1 and 4 “than any other cause except congenital anomalies (birth defects),” according to the CDC. It is also the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14 behind motor vehicle crashes.
How to keep children safe
The CDC and Life Savor both outline similar guidelines that could end up saving a child from drowning — from installing fencing and alarms to making sure certain hazards are removed from the pool area.
CDC and Life Savor both recommend installing four-sided fencing around a pool to completely separate the pool from the house and yard. Life Saver notes that homeowners often want to remove the fence if hosting a party. But, the company warns that homeowners should think twice about that.
According to Life Savor and the CDC, other effective safety measures include automatic door locks and alarms which will “prevent access or alert you if someone enters the pool area.” “In two thirds of the drowning cases studied where children were thought to be in the home, sliding glass doors were either left open or opened by the toddler,” according to experts cited in Life Savor’s guide. The guide also suggests using door and gate alarms that have the button with an adult bypass switch that must be pushed whenever the door is opened.
Don't leave toys, objects in the pool
Leaving toys or other objects in the pool that could potentially draw your child in was also warned against. “Children who would not normally go near a pool because of fear may not even think about the water if they are in pursuit of a favorite toy in the pool,” Life Savor’s guide said.
Wearable alarm devices
Though a little more involved, Life Savor notes another effective technology for children — personal immersion alarms, which are sensors worn typically on a child’s wrist. When the sensor gets wet, “it sends a wireless signal to a remote base station, usually located in the house, which alarms loudly.” There are two components — the device, which resembles a wrist watch — and the base station, which remains within earshot of the supervising adult. “Even if your home is equipped with an alarm system that will beep when perimeter doors are opened, install simple contact alarms on the more often used doors as a further safeguard,” the guide reads.
Let it ring
People going inside to fetch a ringing landline phone, leaving a child near the pool, has been the cause of “numerous drowning incidents,” according to the guide.
No, older children or siblings are not adults
Parents will often call on an older sibling to watch a young child while they handle a seemingly brief matter away from the pool. Though it may be less dangerous in some scenarios, when dealing near a pool, older children “are not always as sensitive to the dangers of drowning when it applies to others.”