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Water Safety - Part 2

Having a Pool at Home

Having a pool, pond, spa, or hot tub on your property is a tremendous responsibility when it comes to safety issues.

Hot tubs may feel great to adults, but kids can become dangerously overheated in them and can even drown — so it’s best not to let them use them at all. Having a fence (one that goes directly around the pool or spa) between the water and your house is the best safety investment you can make. This could go a long way toward preventing pool-related drowning.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), fences should meet the following rules:

• Fences should stand at least 4 feet (130 centimeters) high with no foot or handrails for kids to climb on.

• The slats should be less than 4 inches (110 millimeters) apart so a child can’t get through, or if chain link, should have no opening larger than 1¾ inches (50 millimeters).

• Gates should be self-closing and self-latching, and the latch should be out of kid’s reach.

You can buy other devices, such as pool covers and alarms, but the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that they have not proved effective against drowning for very young children. The AAP strongly supports fencing as the best measure of protection.

Making Kids Water Wise

It’s important to teach your kids proper pool and spa behavior, and to make sure that you take the right precautions, too.

Kids shouldn’t run or push around the pool and should never dive in areas that are not marked for diving. If the weather turns bad (especially if there’s lightning), they should get out of the pool immediately. Let them know, too, that they should contact the lifeguard or an adult if there’s an emergency.

Above all, supervise your kids at all times. Don’t assume that just because your child took swimming lessons or is using a flotation device such as an inner tube or inflatable raft that there is no drowning risk. If you leave your child with a babysitter, make sure he or she knows your rules for the pool.

Seconds count when it comes to water emergencies, so take a cordless phone with you when you’re watching kids during water play. If you receive a call while supervising kids, keep your conversation brief to prevent being distracted.

Once you’ve installed all your safety equipment, review your home for water hazards and plan what to do in an emergency. Learn CPR (other caregivers should learn it, too) and make sure you have safety equipment, such as emergency flotation devices, that are in good shape and are close at hand when boating or swimming. Post emergency numbers on all phones and make sure all caregivers are aware of their locations. After your kids are finished playing in the pool for the day, be sure to remove all pool toys and put them away. Children have drowned while trying to retrieve playthings left in the pool.

You should still be concerned about water safety, even after the swim season has passed. Pools with covers are not safe; many kids attempt to walk on top of pools during the winter months and may get trapped underneath a pool cover.

In addition, icy pools, ponds, and streams are tempting play areas for kids, so keep your pool gates locked and teach your child to stay away from water without your supervision. If you have an above-ground pool, it’s wise to always lock or remove the ladder when the pool is not in use.

Source: kidshealth.org

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