Saturday, August 30, 2008

Swimming at home & on the go...Safety

Everyone knows I seem to be raising two little fish. So I have been prompted by more than few readers and friends to do a entry about swimming and the toys, flotation devices, etc.. Because pools of course are everywhere...on the go in your neighborhood, on a trip, or perhaps just staying at home.

But before the fun we really need to talk safety....according to the CDC in 2005 over 3500 people died of unintentional drownings. Of those one in four are children under the age of 14. In 2005 of all children between the ages of 1 and 4 that died 30% were from drowning. Rates have slowly been dropping, but drowning still is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death in children under the age of 14. OK, if that didn't scare you on at the CDC's webpage Seriously pools and water can be really fun, but they can also be very dangerous, so we as parents who do everything from even before birth to protect our tiny loved ones from prenatal vitamins, washing all those new clothes, sheets, stocking their room with hypoallergenic everything, and then once they are here washing our hands, making baby food, buying organic, using monitors just need to be educated like we were with What to Expect When...or whatever book was your choosing....about water safety.

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests not putting a pull into your yard until your children are 5. I thoroughly understand their rationale, but there is a high chance whether in your own yard, someone else's, or on vacation your child will be exposed to a pool, so next you need to look at some of the safety aspects (as outlined by AAP) of exposing your kids to a pool:
  • Never leave your children alone in or near the pool, even for a moment. An adult who knows CPR should actively supervise children at all times.
  • Practice touch supervision with children younger than 5 years. This means that the adult is within an arm's length of the child at all times.
  • You must put up a fence to separate your house from the pool. Most young children who drown in pools wander out of the house and fall into the pool. Install a fence at least 4 feet high around all 4 sides of the pool. This fence will completely separate the pool from the house and play area of the yard. Use gates that self-close and self-latch, with latches higher than your children's reach.
  • Keep rescue equipment (such as a shepherd's hook or life preserver) and a telephone by the pool.
  • Do not use air-filled "swimming aids" as a substitute for approved life vests.
    Remove all toys from the pool after use so children aren't tempted to reach for them.
  • After the children are done swimming, secure the pool so they can't get back into it.

A note regarding bullet #1 and CPR training. Living in NorCal where we just finished several triple digit days there are many of us that have pools and small children. So last year I organized a CPR course here at my home for several families. I did an on-line search or you can easily contact your local Red Cross chapter to get course information. We hired an instructor who's fee was per pupil and we also hired a babysitter for all the kids. It was definitely a morning well-spent. We got 6 local families, ~12 parents, all with pools at their home and all with children under the age of 8 CPR certified. We all agreed even though it was a gigantic pain to coordinate all of our was so worth it.

Regarding bullet #3...if you build your own pool or even use a pool company you/they will be required to go through inspections with your county planning commission. One of the things they will review is your fence height as well as gates. They will check the swing time on your gate to ensure it is closing in a quick fashion. These do loosen up over time and tend to swig slower so ensure your builder or installer shows you how to tighten them back.

You can find even more info regarding pool safety at the American Red Cross & ABC Pool Safety or a multitude of other sites of your choosing. I am not really sure why I felt I needed to spout or relay all this info before writing the fun piece (which I promise will follow shortly)....I guess as my husband would say...."it's the Mom in you."

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