Summertime is here; watch the pool

Published 1:25 am Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Memorial Day has long come and gone, offering everyone a chance to honor and recognize our veterans for their devotion to the country in times of war.

The Memorial Day weekend also happens to coincide with the traditional start of summer in the United States. And for many, summer time fun often begins beside the pool.

All local public and private pools are open for swimming, which is the unofficial Bat Signal for the start of summer break.

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For parents, this offers an excellent chance to teach their children about precautionary measures that need to be taken when playing around a pool, whether it be a large backyard family or a child’s wading pool.

Any contained amount of water can be hazardous to a small child. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one in four fatal drowning victims are children 14 and younger, and for every child who dies from drowning, another four received emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.

Useful safety tips parents should remember for children include, but are not limited to:

Making sure your child can swim. (This also includes adults).

Never leaving a child unobserved around water. Your eyes must be on the child at all times. Adult supervision is recommended.

Learning Red Cross CPR and insist that babysitters, grandparents, and others who care for your child know CPR.

Enclosing the pool completely with a self-locking, self-closing fence with vertical bars. Openings in the fence should be no more than four inches wide.

If the house is part of the barrier, the doors leading from the house to the pool should remain locked and be protected with an alarm that produces sounds when the door is unexpectedly opened.

Always keep basic lifesaving equipment by the pool and know how to use it. Pole, rope, and personal flotation devices (PFDs) are recommended. Don’t rely on substitutes.

The use of flotation devices and inflatable toys cannot replace parental supervision. Such devices could suddenly shift position, lose air, or slip out from underneath, leaving the child in a dangerous situation.

Keeping toys away from the pool when it is not in use. Toys can attract young children into the pool.

All swimmers should also follow a few basic swimming tips, such as:

 Never swimming during a storm or when there is lightning.

 Never swimming alone. Always use the buddy system.

 Swimming only in safe, guarded areas.

 Knowing how deep the water is.

 Not diving or jumping into water that is not at least 12 feet deep.

 Not running around a pool, push people in or dunk other swimmers.

 Not drinking alcohol when swimming. Alcohol and water activities do not mix.

These tips are nothing new.

You can find the posted at nearly every public pool, but they are posted for good reason: They are sound rules that, when followed, save lives and ensure that everyone has a safe and happy summer.