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Keep Swimming Safe

Swimming is a fun and healthy activity for children, but you need to take precautions to make sure their pool time is safe. Here's a list of things you can do to keep your child safe in the pool:

  • Actively supervise your child when in or near a swimming pool and/or spa.
  • Educate your children about the dangers of entrapments and entanglement.
  • Pull back long hair and secure swimsuit strings.
  • Don't enroll your toddler in swimming lessons until he is 4 years of age or older. No matter how good a swimmer a child becomes, she is not "water safe" at any age without your supervision or the supervision of a lifeguard.
  • Remember also that inner tubes and plastic rafts don't protect your child from drowning. You must watch your child carefully, even in wading pools, as she can drown in even just a few inches of water.
  • For your older child, keep in mind that horseplay and running around a pool can lead to drowning or head injuries. You should establish and enforce a "no-horseplay" rule. Part of that means following pool procedures, such as going down slides feet first to avoid injuries.
  • Make sure that there is life-saving equipment, such as life preservers and poles with hooks, at any pool where your child swims.
  • Be prepared for emergencies. Make sure your CPR skills are up to date. If you've never had a class, take one now. If you took one years ago, go back for a refresher course.
  • Be aware that public pools can be a source of infections. Even with chlorination, pools can harbor organisms that cause diarrhea, rashes, and other health problems. Pools that require showers before swimming reduce this risk.

Do you have a pool in your backyard? Make sure your pool meets these safety requirements set by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:

  • Fences and walls should be at least four feet high and installed completely around the pool. Fence gates should be self-closing and self-latching. The latch should be out of a small child's reach.
  • If your house forms one side of the barrier to the pool, then doors leading from the house to the pool should be protected with alarms that produce a sound when a door is unexpectedly opened.
  • A power safety cover -- a motor-powered barrier that can be placed over the water area -- should be used when the pool is not in use.
  • Install environmental protection, if you own a pool or spa, such as multiple drains, entrapment drain covers, and drain safety vacuum release systems.
  • For above-ground pools, steps and ladders to the pool should be secured and locked, or removed when the pool is not in use.
  • If a child is missing, always look in the pool first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability. Keep rescue equipment by the pool, and be sure a phone is poolside with emergency numbers posted. You or someone in your household should know CPR.
  • If pool alarms are used, CPSC advises that consumers use remote alarm receivers so the alarm can be heard inside the house or in other places away from the pool area.

Reviewed 6/2006 by Deirdre Byrne

Additional reporting by Loraine M. Stern, MD, FAAP

Source: Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Safe Kids Worldwide

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.