How To Protect Your Kids at the Pool

By: Roger Hall

A university statistics professor in the United States, Steven D. Levitt, was struck by how many children had drowned in swimming pools. They were the kind of deaths that don't make the newspaper-unlike, for instance, a child who dies while playing with a gun. He got curious, and went looking for numbers that would tell the story.

After conducting a detailed scientific study, he concluded the following; 'If you both own a gun and have a swimming pool in the backyard, the swimming pool is about 100 times more likely to kill a child than the gun is.'

Drowning is one of the major causes of accidents involving children worldwide, resulting in serious injury and death. Thousands of tragic accidents involving swimming pools highlight the sad fact that kids and pools can be a very dangerous combination. A number of child deaths have occurred while parents have been looking away, or were not in the vicinity. Other heart-rending events have involved children's long hair being caught in pool water pump inlets, which have also led to drowning.

In a number of cases, accidents happened even though the child knew how to swim. The result of this study serves to highlight the significant hazard that swimming pools present to children, compared to other dangers. Toddlers, in particular, often do something unexpected because their capabilities change daily.

Submersion incidents involving children usually happen in familiar surroundings. In another study, 65 percent of the incidents happened in a pool owned by the child's family and 33 percent of the incidents happened in a pool owned by friends or relatives.

Child drowning is often a silent death - there's no splashing to alert anyone that the child is in trouble. Pool submersions involving children happen quickly. A child can drown in the time it takes to answer a phone. 77 percent of the victims had been missing from sight for five minutes or less.

Here are some easy tips you can use to reduce the risk;

Never allow your youngster to swim alone without any adult supervision. It is vital that persons be around, ready to help if needed.

Does Your Pool have a Fence?
Enclose your pool with a fence at least 4 feet (1.2 Metres) high, and a gate which can be locked. Do not leave the pool open and accessible, as children can fall inside. In many communities having a fence around a pool, with a lockable gate, is a legal requirement.

Cordless Phone
Always have a phone nearby the pool. This should ensure that nobody has to leave a child alone in the pool to answer the phone when it rings. A cordless home phone can be a good solution.

Social Gatherings
During social gatherings at or near a pool, appoint a "designated watcher" to protect young children from pool accidents. Adults may take turns being the "watcher." When adults become preoccupied, children are at risk.

Slips & Falls
A number of children are injured when they slip and fall around the pool on wet tiles or concrete; consider having your child wear a pair of anti-slip pool shoes when around and even in, the pool.

Life Saver
You should ensure there is always a life saving flotation device handy, such as; a lifesaver ring or foam flotation device near the pool. This could be very handy if an adult happens to be around to help rescue a child from the edge of the pool - but who cannot actually get in the pool and swim. However, do not use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision. Remove toys from in and around the pool when it is not in use, as toys can attract young children closer to the pool.

Every parent and guardian should be conversant in basic Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) techniques in case of any accident. Survival depends on rescuing the child quickly and restarting the breathing process, even while the child is still in the water. Seconds count in preventing death or brain damage.

Jump, Don't Dive!
Teach your children that diving should only be performed in special pools, or in designated areas. It's very easy to misjudge the depth of a pool, or mistake the shallow-end for the deep-end and suffer a serious neck or head injury.

Long Hair
If your child has longer hair, consider the use of a swim cap which will ensure their hair does not become tangled in pool equipment.

Small Water Bodies
Avoid leaving your kids alone even with small portable pools or other water bodies such as buckets or fountains. There is always a danger of drowning occurring even in small bodies of water.

Again, please watch what your kids are doing whenever they are near water. Supervise their activities and never leave them alone in or near any pool. If a child is missing, check the pool first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability. Go to the edge of the pool and scan the entire pool, bottom and surface, as well as the pool area.

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Roger Hall of COEGA Sunwear develops swim tips and clothing for women. Providing Style, Comfort and Protection. Find out how to protect yourself with more popular FREE Swim Tips for active women of all ages, available at: => and click on 'Swim Training Tips' on the left-hand side of the page.

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