Backyard Water Safety Op-Ed
Nearly 75% of drownings involving children happen at home — a sobering statistic, and one that is more relevant than ever this summer.
As public pools remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, parents are bringing the summer water fun home for their family. Big box stores and online retailers report that inflatable and small plastic pools are a hot commodity as people look to stay cool at home this summer.
While a small pool is a great way to beat the heat, fire fighters and emergency medical responders are urging homeowners to practice simple safety rules to avoid a tragedy.
First and foremost, never leave a child unsupervised near any pool or body of water — no matter the depth. Young children can drown in as little as 2 inches of water in less than 30 seconds. That also means that large pools should be protected by a barrier to prevent children from possibly falling in while unsupervised. Smaller, blow-up or plastic pools should be emptied every evening. Not only will this help your family avoid accidental drownings, but removing standing water will prevent insects from gathering as well.
Slips and falls are also a concern on any wet surface. While it may evoke memories of the public pool lifeguard, the best way to prevent slips is a no running near the pool rule. Diligently enforcing this rule may be difficult with school-age children, but it will go a long way in keeping them safe and reducing broken bones and other slip-related injuries.
No diving. While store-bought pools are, of course, not deep enough for a dive — very few above-ground pools are deep enough for diving either. Diving head-first into shallow water can cause severe neck injuries that could result in paralysis. Play it safe and only enter the water feet first.
Fire fighters also recommend teaching children to swim. While this may not be applicable to some of the smaller at-home pools – and it may be difficult to find lessons – it is a valuable skill to consider any time you are thinking about water safety.
Finally, have a first aid kit available and place emergency contacts in your phone. Learning CPR can help save a life. Many times, early CPR done my bystanders is the key to a successful outcome. CPR classes are available through many hospitals, community centers or by contacting the American Red Cross.
These simple precautions will help prevent tragedy around the pool this summer and allow the entire family to enjoy the water.