Swimming is a fun and enjoyable summertime activity for people of all ages, as long as certain precautions are taken. When safety is ignored, homeowners are negligent or proper warning signs are not posted, swimming could lead to a tragic injury or death.
In many instances, all it takes is a few moments for a child to slip out of sight and drown. Preventable premises liability accidents involving drowning are far too common in Indiana and across the country.
According to Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death among children between the ages of 1 and 4.
Thousands of people are treated for near-drowning injuries and an average of 380 children under the age of 15 die each year as a result of drowning in either a pool or spa, with 76 percent of these deaths involving children under 5 years of age and 67 percent involving children between 1 and 3.
In Indiana alone, six children under the age of 15 lost their lives in drowning accidents last year.
Rules to Remember for Pool Safety
If you are planning to include swimming among the activities you and your family will take part in this summer, the American Red Cross recommends you become aware of important swimming safety rules such as the following seven tips:
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Teach your children how to swim
One of the most basic safety measures parents should take is to teach their children how to swim. When children know how to swim or at least stay afloat, the risk of drowning is dramatically reduced. Swimming lessons can provide your children with the skills they need to reach the edge of the pool, get back to the shoreline, or stay above the surface of the water until help arrives.
Make sure children have constant adult supervision
Children should never be left unsupervised around a pool, spa, river, lake or any body of water. Even if the place where you swim has a designated lifeguard on duty, it is important to make sure your children have constant adult supervision. Children should never be made responsible for watching other children. It is too easy for young ones to become distracted and a tragedy to occur. Adults also need to avoid any distraction so children are supervised at all times.
Follow and enforce pool rules
Most public pools have posted rules or warning signs letting visitors and guests know what is expected as appropriate behavior at the pool. It is important for children’s safety that all pool rules are followed and enforced. This means no running at the water’s edge, no roughhousing or pushing in or around the pool, no unsupervised children under the age of 14 in the pool area, no alcohol consumption and no diving. Children must be taught to ask permission before entering the water and parents should watch at all times.
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Make sure everyone swims with a buddy
Do not put yourself at risk by swimming alone. Swimming with a buddy is extremely important, particularly when swimming in a lake, pond or river. In these bodies of water, it is not always possible to see the bottom or spot potential hazards. With a buddy, you can look out for and assist each other should the need arise. A buddy can also keep an eye out for boaters, fishermen, jet skiers and others who may be coming dangerously close to a swimming area.
Educate kids on the difference between swimming in a pool and a lake
Kids need to understand the difference between swimming in a pool and swimming in a lake or other natural body of water. Lakes, rivers and the ocean often have a variety of hazards that are not easy to see. Branches, rocks, moss, weeds and other growths can cause a person to get stuck and become panicked when trying to get loose. Fishing lines in the water or fish that frighten a swimmer, causing panic, are also potential hazards. Natural bodies of water may also contain strong currents that can overwhelm an inexperienced swimmer.
Keep your pool gated and securely locked
Pools and spas must be gated and securely locked. Children are very inquisitive and all it takes is a few moments for a young child to wander into a pool area, fall in the water and drown. Children are far safer when there is a fence surrounding a pool with an entry that has a self-latching gate or locking mechanism. Even so, any homeowner with a pool, even with fences and gates, should be careful to keep track of children at all times. Too many tragic deaths have occurred due to children drowning in backyard pools.
Learn how to properly perform CPR
One of the most important safety measures you can take if you plan on spending any time around a pool or lake this summer is to learn CPR. Learning CPR not only gives you peace of mind, but it may mean the difference between life and death in a drowning accident. Many hospitals, fire departments and community recreation departments in Indiana offer CPR training. Even children can be taught CPR so they too know what to do in an emergency situation.