Pool Safety: Things To Know About Drowning

By: Emily Bacheller

July 01, 2019

Group of kids sitting on edge of pool, splashing

The warm weather is here and pools are open. Swimming is a great way to keep your kids cool, occupied and exercised throughout summer, however pools come with their fair share of risks. Before you take your children swimming, check out these pool safety tips.

Pool safety is something every parent needs to take more seriously. Why? Because drownings of young children ages one to four have increased in recent years. Unfortunately, drownings are the number one cause of death in this age group - we lose the equivalent of 10 school buses full of children to fatal drownings in the U.S. each year.

With warmer temps and hopes of cooling off in a local pool, you can’t be too careful when it comes to protecting your children from the risk of drowning. Children are naturally drawn to water, so parents must be extra aware in order to protect their kids from diving in headfirst. Kris Deeter, MD, pediatric intensive care physician at Renown Children’s Hospital, offers tips to keep your littles safe in the water.

Preparing Your Child for the Pool

People aren’t born knowing how to swim. This means parents must teach their children about swimming and pool safety if they want them to be safe and confident around water. It can take years to develop these skills, so the key is to start when your children are very young. Here are some ground rules:
  • Teach your child to swim starting at age one. We recommend enrolling your toddler in swim classes; there are several organizations in the Reno-Tahoe area that offer baby and toddler swim classes.
  • Keep your kids away from plastic and inflatable pools - they’re easy for children to fall or climb into and drown. They’re also a breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Floaties and water wings are not safe! They are not a safe substitute or “crutch” for learning how to swim and they can lead to drowning if the child is using them incorrectly or while unsupervised.
  • Stay within arm’s reach of babies and toddlers when at the pool. Supervision alone is not enough – you must be within arm’s reach in case they fall in and need to be rescued quickly.
  • Learn child and infant CPR. If a drowning does occur, the best course of action is to call 911, get the child onto dry land and conduct CPR until breathing is restored or the EMTs arrive.


Pool Parties: A Risk for Drowning?

Surprisingly, pool parties, a common summer pastime, actually increase the risk of drowning incidents. Although responsible adults are usually at pool parties, distractions ranging from alcohol to pool toys can actually make it easier for drownings to occur unnoticed. Does this mean you should RSVP “no” to the next pool party your child is invited to? Not if you follow the pool safety tips below:
  • Attend the party with your child so you can supervise them while they swim.
  • Remove unused floaties and toys from the pool. They can obscure visibility, making it difficult to see a child in the pool.
  • Don’t drink alcohol while supervising a pool party.
  • Assign an adult “water watcher” to pay constant attention to children in the pool.


Pool Safety Precautions for Homeowners

If you own a pool, there are several more precautions to ensure the safety of your children. Even if your kids are strong swimmers who have mastered the rules of pool safety, there may be neighbors or friends who are younger and more vulnerable to drowning. You must undertake precautions for these children too. Some of these may seem time-consuming or expensive, but they are worth it to prevent a child from a fatal drowning. To keep your pool or spa safe, please:
  • Cover your pool or spa when not in use.
  • Choose a pool or spa cover with safety features like locks, safety sensors or alarms.
  • Fence in your pool or spa area. The fence should be locked and at least four feet tall. Do not leave toys in the pool area as these may attract children.


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