Moms Columns & Blogs

Swimming safety tips

From staff reports

Is your child safe in the pool?

A new report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reveals that nearly 300 children younger than 5 drown in pools and spas each year, and about 3,000 suffer pool or spa-related injuries requiring attention at hospital emergency rooms.

About two-thirds of the pool and spa-related deaths and injuries involve children ages 1-2, with about 80% of the drowning fatalities occurring in residential settings, such as the victim’s home, a family or friend’s house or at a neighbor’s residence.

In addition, from 1999 through 2008, there were 83 reports of pool and spa entrapments, including 11 deaths and 69 injuries. Since 1999, 14% of the reported suction/entrapment incidents at pools or spas were fatal.

“Preventing child drownings is a key part of CPSC’s mission. I call upon all parents, caregivers and pool and spa operators to ensure that fencing and other layers of protection are in place; that there is constant supervision of children in and around the water; and that new, safer drain covers that prevent entrapment incidents are installed,” said Acting CPSC Chairman Nancy Nord.

A new law requires all public pools and spas to have anti-entrapment drain covers, and in certain circumstances, an additional anti-entrapment system. CPSC has prioritized public wading pools, kiddie pools and in-ground spas as the key areas of focus for enforcement and has called upon state departments of health to assist the agency in enforcing the law.

CPSC has also launched a new Web site -

Drowning occurs more commonly when children get access to the pool during a short lapse in adult supervision. To reduce the risk of drowning, pool owners should adopt several layers of protection, including physical barriers, such as a fence completely surrounding the pool with self-closing, self-latching gates to prevent unsupervised access by young children. If the house forms a side of the barrier, use alarms on doors leading to the pool area and/or a power safety cover over the pool. In addition, reports of children exiting the house via a pet door have been on the rise.

Tips to protect children from water dangers from Peter McKenzie, director of aquatics at Great Wolf Lodge in Concord and Infant Swimming Resource:

1. Effective Supervision - the most important defense. Never turn your back on your child around water. It takes just minutes for him/her to be in serious trouble. 2. Pool Safety. Covered pools and hot tubs can be a serious oversight for well-meaning parents. Make sure they are appropriately secured, year-round, with:-- Pool alarms and doorway alarms that access outdoor water areas.-- Permanent pool fencing with a self-latching gate.-- Door and window locks for pool access areas (locks must be out of the child’s reach).-- Double check locks and make sure pool security devices work. Safety gates are deterrents but not a sole defense.

3. Self-rescue Skills. If the above defense measures fail, your baby needs to know skills for self-rescue should she find herself in the water alone. Infant Swimming Resource emphasizes water self-rescue skills as a comprehensive water-safety plan for young children. ISR has successfully trained more than 175,000 babies and toddlers with a 100 percent safety and survival rate, zero injuries and 788 documented cases of a child using ISR techniques to save their own life.

4. Educate Others. Nannies, grandparents, neighbors and caregivers should know year-round water-safety tips and have appropriately installed security devices where relevant.

5. Store All Toys. Toys are tempting; never leave them outside around water areas.

6. Keep a phone by the pool. To be used for emergencies only.

7. Aim pool jets toward the pool’s shallow end. This creates a current that can guide a baby toward the steps to exit the pool.

8. Keep water levels full. This helps your child reach the elevated ledge and either get out of the pool or hold on and call for help.

9. No Diving Boards. Diving boards pose countless injury risks to young children.

10. Make sure young children and non-swimmers wear Coast Guard-approved life jackets. Make sure the life jacket is fastened property. Inflatable rafts, swim “floaties,” and other inflatable devices are not appropriate life saving devices.

11. Teach kids how to swim. Enroll children in swim lessons. These lessons teach the basics of water safety and awareness, and kids will learn a valuable life-skill while gaining confidence. Check with the local YMCA, Red Cross, parks department, or school district to see if they offer swim lessons. Some Great Wolf Lodge locations also offer swim lessons, and all the resorts offer “Junior Lifeguard” sessions through Cub ClubTM.

13. Stay hydrated and be sure to take regular breaks out of the water to stay alert and avoid fatigue.