Keeping your child safe in the water is a hot topic if you have children, no matter what time of the year. Your family pool is not the only hazard around your house because infants can drown in just a few inches of water. The bathtub and toilet are potential danger zones as well any collected pool of water like your mop bucket.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that, on average, there are 390 pool related drownings reported each year and 75 percent of those involved are children under 5 (www.cpsc.gov). The best way to keep children safe in the water, whether it is at the pool or in your own bathroom, is simply to not take your eyes off them. If you are in the pool, do not go inside to get a drink or walk away to grab a towel while your little ones are in the water. If baby is in the bath, don’t walk away to answer the phone or get another bottle of baby shampoo. It takes just seconds for an accident to happen and drowning can happen silently. It may be messy to drag a wet toddler inside when the phone rings or grab them out of the bath because the mailman is at the door, but it’s a mess worth cleaning up if you compare it to the mess of an injured or drowned child.
As for keeping your child safe in the pool, is recommended that you teach your children to swim and teach them water safety at an early age. Most local parks and recreation centers offer low cost swimming lessons each summer or throughout the year. If you have really small children, you can even find “mommy and me” style classes in some areas. These classes can serve as a refresher for you on water safety and can really be a fun time for you and your child.
The biggest recommendation to keep your child safe in the pool is having a fence is installed around the pool. The specific requirements and laws vary from state to state, but the basic idea behind a pool fence is to prevent kids from going over it, under it or through it to gain unsupervised access to a pool. It is recommended that all pool fences be at least 4 feet high, have a gap of no more than 4 inches at the bottom and gaps of no more than 4 inches between slats. The gate should also shut closed by itself and latch. You can also go an extra step and add an alarm to the gate, or a patio door that leads to a pool area, that makes noise when opened. Each time the gate or door is opened, a beeping noise can be heard so you will be alerted to check outside.
Lastly, do not place all your trust in those blow up pool floaties or even in life vests to keep your child safe in the water. Those blow up floaties are made for fun, not safety. They can slowly deflate or pop in an instant, making them even more dangerous. Life vests are to enhance safety, not to rely on as a means of safety. A small child could still end up floating face down with a life vest on when you’re not watching. Just make things easy, and keep a close eye on children while they are in the water. It may even be more fun to join them and splash around so you can be close by keeping them safe!