Summer is almost here and a trip to the beach, lake or pool is always fun for everyone. Even if your child knows how to swim, there are hazards associated with pools, spas, lakes and the beach. A child can drown quickly and quietly. Take some steps to keep it safe.
Drowning occurs both when adults are not present—when a child has left the house unnoticed and slipped into the pool and when an adult is present but has been distracted momentarily. If a child is missing, look for him or her in the pool or spa first.
- Never leave a child unattended in a pool or spa and always watch your child when he or she is in or near water. Never take for granted that someone is watching a child. Even if you are at the beach or a pool with friends or a caregiver, be sure to always watch your child near or in water.
- Be sure there is constant supervision planned when your child is visiting someone else’s pool. Find out who is supervising and be sure someone will be there at all times. Whether you are at your own home, visiting a home with a pool or spa, or your child is taking a trip to a beach with another family, be sure there is planned supervision at all times.Beware of rip currents. These currents don’t pull you under the water; they actually carry you out so far you can’t back. They can occur at any beach with waves, even the Great Lakes. You won’t be able to see or identify rip currents yourself, so talk to the Lifeguard on duty and check for posted signs and warning flags at the beach. Before you leave for the beach check the latest National Weather Service forecast for local beach conditions.
- Select a safe area to swim. If you are swimming in a lake or river, find an area that has good water quality and safe natural conditions. Avoid murky water, plant life, strong currents, and unexpected drop offs.
- If you have a choice, choose a beach, pool, or lake that is manned by trained lifeguards. Even if trained lifeguards are present, you still need to remain vigilant and at your child’s side
- A flotation device is not necessarily a safety device. In fact, some flotation devices can give you and your child a false sense of security. Your child should only wear a life vest that is U.S. Coast-Guard approved. Inflatable devices such as rafts and toys can lose air, shift positions, or slip out from underneath your child. Remember, a flotation device is not a substitute for your close supervision.
- Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments. Make sure the pool, spa or hot tub you are using has drains with compliant drain covers. All drains should have anti-entrapment/anti-entanglement covers. These covers are designed to keep your child’s hair from getting tangled in the drain. Check the drains on hotel pools or any other pool your child uses. If the drains are flat or uncovered, don’t let your children use the pool. Take extra precaution and make sure that loose items such as long hair, clothing or jewelry are not dangling when swimming in a pool or sitting in a spa.
- Make sure your pool is equipped with a Safety Vacuum Release System (SVRS) – a device that will automatically shut off a pump if a blockage is detected—or any other automatic shut-off systems in your own pool or spa. Whoever is supervising should also know where the pool or spa pump switch is and know how to turn it off. Be sure the location of the electrical cut-off switch for the pool or spa pump is plainly marked. If someone becomes entrapped, turn off the pump immediately.
- Have a telephone close by when you or your family is using a pool or spa.
The proper precaution ahead of time and during your swim outing will ensure you have a safe, fun day with your family and friends. Help spread the word about pool, spa and swim safety. For additional safety information, safety alerts and recalls go to www.thesafetycouncil.org. Pass it on and save a life!
Jamie Schaefer-Wilson is the executive director at The Safety Institute.