Spring break is nearing in Georgia which means the first of many trips to the pool. When summer hits we will see temperatures near 90 degrees, plus humidity. Jumping in the pool can be one of the only ways to cool off on a sunny Georgia day. Unfortunately, the pool isn’t always the safest place for swimmers – especially for children. Unintentional drowning is the fifth-leading cause of unintentional injury death in the U.S., taking around 10 lives per day. Two of these deaths are children under the age of 14. Swimming pool risks don’t have to mean never taking a dip. It simply means parents and children should be extra careful. Use these tips to keep your summer pool sessions safe and accident-free.
Enrolling your child in swimming lessons early in life can decrease the odds of a drowning incident. While teaching your child to swim doesn’t mean he or she can’t drown, it does mean your child will have the knowledge and skill to most likely swim to the edge of the pool or float until help arrives. Even if your child can swim, do not leave him or her alone in the swimming pool.
Never leave children alone in or near a swimming pool, without exception. It does not matter if your children can swim, if the pool is shallow, if you’ve told them not to go near the water, or if they have flotation devices. Accidents can still happen. Drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages one to four. Most drowning incidents occur right at home. Always have at least one (sober) adult supervising the kids in the pool. When the pool isn’t in use, employ a gate, fence, pool cover, and/or alarm system to keep kids safe.
Slips and falls on slippery pool decks, lacerations on jagged metal ladders and railings, chemical burns from too-high chlorine levels, illness from mold and algae growth, and accidental drowning after getting stuck in an exposed pool drain are all preventable swimming pool accidents. If you have a pool at your home, it’s your job to keep the area safe and clean for swimmers. Community pool staff and personal pool owners should both actively maintain the pool regularly, checking for known and hidden hazards. Signs to help keep swimmers safe, such as “No Diving,” should be used at all times.
It’s natural for kids to be excited around swimming pools. Although the pool is meant to be a fun place, they should learn proper pool etiquette at a young age. Teach kids that running, horseplay, diving in shallow water, etc. is not acceptable at a pool. All of these activities could result in serious injury and it is important to instill that at a young age.
If you have a pool at your house, you hold the duty as a pool owner to keep trespassing and wandering children out of your pool. A swimming pool is considered an “attractive nuisance” in the eyes of Georgia law. An attractive nuisance protects children from injury when they go on the premises of another person or company uninvited and get injured playing on something that children want to play on. This means you have greater duties of care in keeping children safe – even children who trespass on your property. Enclose your pool with a proper (unclimbable) fence and a gate with a lock, or use a pool cover that locks. Community pools typically have lifeguards and take the same precautions that a pool owner should.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is critical in saving the life of someone who has drowned. Performing CPR on the person until paramedics arrive can keep the heart beating, the blood pumping, and oxygen going to the brain. Otherwise, the victim has a much higher chance of suffering brain damage due to hypoxia, or lack of oxygen. Contact your local Red Cross to take a CPR class before throwing your first summer pool party, or make sure you invite an adult who knows CPR. Having a CPR-certified person on hand could save a life.