HOUSTON (June 22, 2011) – As students bid goodbye to books and homework, kids across Houston are flocking to swimming pools to celebrate summer and cool off.
But pools can be dangerous if precautions aren’t taken.
“Drowning can happen any time of year, but parents need to be particularly vigilant during warmer months, when the number of drownings skyrockets,” says Dr. Joseph D’Addesio, medical director, Emergency Center, Lyndon Baines Johnson General Hospital, part of the Harris County Hospital District. “The most important thing for any parent to remember is never leave a child alone near a pool."
According to the American Association of Pediatrics, on average, about 3,600 injuries a year occur to children due to near-drowning incidents. Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional death among children ages 1 to 4 years and children 10 to 14 years. For infants less than one year, drowning is the third leading cause of death.
• To make sure your children are safe this summer, D’Addesio recommends following some simple pool safety tips.
• Install a fence around all sides of the pool to prevent a young child from getting over, under or through.
• Install a lock on the fence to keep kids from gaining access to the pool and keep chairs and other furniture or pool equipment away from the fence to keep children from climbing.
• Keep a phone and rescue equipment, such as a life preserver, by the pool for emergencies.
• Do not let children use floating toys in water above their waist.
• Place water toys in storage after use. Children tempted by toys may try to grab the toy and fall in.
• Don’t substitute inflatable swimming aids such as “floaties” or approved life vests for adult supervision. These devices can snag and deflate and often give parents and children a false sense of security.
• Enroll your child in swimming lessons based on developmental readiness, but realize that swim programs should never be seen as “drown proofing” a child.
• Designate an adult who knows how to swim and perform CPR to supervise when infants or toddlers are in the water.
• Do not use a pool or spa if there are broken or missing drain covers. Suction from pool and spa drains can trap a swimmer underwater.
“The good news is that drownings are often preventable,” D’Addesio says. “Parents are urged to protect their children in and around the water. Seconds count during an emergency — and taking some simple steps to improve safety can save a child’s life.”