GHS Cares: What to Know About Pool Safety

5/17/2018

Summer is approaching quickly, and this means time spent outdoors! Family swimming pool time is one popular outdoor summer activity to help beat the heat, but it’s important to take the necessary safety precautions if swimming and using the pool. Accidental drowning is the second most common cause of unintentional death in children, and according to Safe Kids Worldwide, swimming pools are the most common site for drowning in children ages 1-4. Thankfully, there are ways to help prevent this.

Fact #1 Adults should be within arm’s length of young children at all times in the swimming pool.

First, it’s important to have clear rules when at the pool. These include swimming only where there is a lifeguard on duty, having a buddy while in the pool and never leaving children unattended. Young children, especially those who cannot swim independently, should always be in arm’s length of a responsible adult. This point is important. Drowning is often a quiet and not a particularly obvious process at times, so an adult should be close enough to support their child within seconds. Life jackets are also important but do not replace the need for an adult within arm’s length.

Fact #2 Keeping the pool area secured with appropriate gates is essential for backyard pools.

Second, it’s important to keep pool areas secure. Most accidental drowning occurs in backyard home pools. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), fencing is absolutely critical for home pools and all gates should be self-closing and self-latching. Ideally, there should be two secured entrances separating children’s play spaces and the interior home from a backyard pool.

Fact #3 Preventive education including early swim lessons and reviewing swim safety rules regularly is key for swim safety.

Third, preventive education is key for keeping kids safe at the pool., including starting swim lessons at an early age. Many local YMCAs have lessons for children starting as early as 6 months of age. Most swim lessons include basic teaching on swim safety, but this should also be reviewed as a family. According to the CDC, everyone should know the basics of swimming and CPR. It is also strongly advised to make sure children wear a life jacket around natural bodies of water and practice safe behaviors when at the pool, beach or boating. These rules should be reviewed prior to every swimming outing.

Fact #4 Adults also need to practice and be knowledgeable about safe swimming practices.

Finally, adults should make sure they are doing their part when it comes to staying safe at the pool. If responsible for a swimming child, you should know how to swim yourself. If not confident regarding your own swimming skills, consider an adult swim class. Care also needs to be taken with consuming alcohol, as it is a common component of backyard BBQs and beach trips. It only takes a moment of inattention to allow for a possibly fatal situation to occur.

As primary care physicians, we realize the tenor of this article is more serious than most. We absolutely want families to enjoy a sunny, splash-filled summer; we just want to make sure you are being safe!

Dr. Liz Baltaro and Dr. Amy Nayo are primary care physicians expanding community access to quality pediatric and family medicine at Granville Primary Care, Butner-Creedmoor, located at 1614 NC Highway 56, Butner. To schedule your primary care appointment, please call 919-575-6103 or schedule online at ghshospital.org. You can schedule a primary care appointment with a provider as far as 12 months in advance through online scheduling.

Have a health-related question for Dr. Liz Baltaro and Dr. Amy Nayo? Click here to submit your question and receive an answer in a timely manner!

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