Swimming Pool Safety Begins with Parents
Rules are not uncool around the pool, but adult supervision is key.
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Kids might find Gilbert Aguirre's rules uncool, but he doesn't care as long as they follow them.
Friends of his children, daughter, Allie, 8, and son Gibson, 11, have to learn his rules, which prohibit running around the pool, playing rough and jumping from the pool's small rock waterfall, if they want to swim in the family's pool.
"I really enjoy the kids being over here," said Aguirre, 38 of Abilene, Texas, "but I don't want anyone to get hurt, so there's got to be rules."
Pool owners can buy a variety of devices ranging from wrist alarms to life preservers to prevent accidents, but medical experts and people in the pool business agree safety starts with the parent.
"There's nothing that replaces adult supervision," said David Lane, sales manager at Southwest Pools & Spas in Abilene.
Indeed, cool, blue water seems inviting during the summer but can turn deadly for an unsupervised child. Drowning ranks as the leading cause of injury-related deaths among children ages 1 to 4, with 300 children in that age group drowning annually in residential swimming pools, according to Children's Medical Center of Dallas.
In many drowning cases, the parent or supervising adult said they left the child for only a few minutes or thought someone else was watching the child, according to Children's Medical Center of Dallas.
In other cases, children don't drown but suffer injuries that could have been prevented. Accidents often result from horseplay and children not being aware of their surroundings, said Andrea Gilbreth-McMinn, manager of West Texas Pools & Spas in Abilene.
"They're so excited because they're in the pool and they're having fun, so they're just not worried about safety issues," she said.
The American Red Cross suggests additional prevention strategies relating to parenting and supervision:
- Each member of the family should learn to swim and never swim alone.
- When supervising children who are not strong swimmers, stay within arm's length of them and outfit them in flotation devices.
- Do not allow diving in shallow pools or running around the pool.
- Take breaks from the water and sun if feeling too tired, hot, cold or thirsty.
- Don't mix alcohol and swimming.
- Protect your eyes and skin from the sun.
- Pay attention to local weather conditions and stop swimming at the first indication of inclement weather.
- Learn first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation and ask adults in the family and baby sitters to do the same.
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