Friday, April 13, 2012

'Tis the season for water safety

Yahoo!  It’s my favorite time of year and summer is just around the corner.  Lawns being mowed, everyone sprucing up their yards, and getting ready for the even warmer weather!  This weather has made  me to clean up my pool and sailboat for another fun summer of sailing and outdoor activities!  I’ve been sailing for about 35 years, and absolutely love it, but it’s great fun to relax around the pool without the work of a sailboat! 

Of course, with the unseasonably warm weather and summer upon us, lots of folks have the itch to get the pools and spas up and running.  Whether at the lake or at the pool, we always have to remember our safety around the water, especially with little ones around.  Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children 1-14 years of age.  Children under the age of 5 represent 76% of reported deaths and almost 80% of emergency department-treated submersion injuries.  Taking an infant/child CPR class is an important step in safety.   You can go online to find a class like the ones offered at Texas Health hospitals, or go to the American Heart Association for information. 

Being a pool owner is lots of responsibility! Following are a few things we need to be mindful of:
  • be sure there is a barrier or pool fence around the pool to limit access to adults only; 
  • fence gates should open away from the pool with the latch on the upper quarter of the gate on the inside of the pool enclosure; 
  • install an underwater pool alarm that sounds when something hits the water; 
  • always use pool devices such as drain covers, unblockable drains, and safety vacuum release systems to avoid entrapment (entrapment doesn’t happen to just small children, adults can be entrapped); 
  • remove toys from the pool and spa area so a child won’t try to reach for a toy and fall in the water; and
  • ALWAYS have a phone in the pool area for emergencies. 
If your pool of choice is the small plastic version, empty it at the end of each use…children can drown in less than one inch of water.

The above are all sound tips, but nothing is as effective as diligent supervision.  Never, never leave children unsupervised near a pool or spa!

Gotta go now…I think there is a barbecue and pool party going on in my backyard! Have a water-safe and fun summer!

Debbie Nichols, RN, BSN, is the Injury Prevention/Trauma Outreach Coordinator for Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth.

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