I was reminded of the importance of pool safety after watching the news and hearing that 3 children were found in a nearby apartment pool, under water and unresponsive.
There are about 3,500 fatal unintentional drownings per year, which is about 10 deaths per day. Drowning is the second leading cause of death in children ages 1-14 years. For every child who dies from drowning, there are 4 non-fatal drowning victims who suffer severe and life changing injuries.
Drowning is preventable!! Although many people think of drowning victims screaming and yelling, drowning is actually quick and silent. It only takes seconds (the time to grab a towel, or answer the phone) and a child may become submerged. Most drownings also occur in family pools. Because I have always had a fear of drowning we did not build a pool until our boys were all older than 10 years and were excellent swimmers ( was I a bit over zealous with swim lessons and swim team, maybe...)? Children as young as 2-3 years can safely begin swim lessons and begin the process of mastering how to tread water, floating and basic swim strokes.
Another rule for safe swimming is “never swim alone!”. Teach your children the importance of the buddy system when they are swimming, even in a backyard pool. Adults need to be designated “water watchers” and know that they are responsible for watching the children in the pool and will never leave them unattended. The “water watcher” should regularly scan the bottom of the pool, and will need to have a phone at the pool for emergency use only. Adult water watchers have only 1 job...to watch the pool, no poolside chatting or distractions. It is a big job!
Anyone with a pool or who is a caregiver of children who are swimming needs to become CPR certified. CPR skills can save lives and prevent brain damage.
Lastly, if you have a pool you need layers of protection - which means a barrier around your pool. I have heard many a family tell me that their child “could never get out the door to the pool, it has several locks and an alarm”. Despite the best of intentions, no parent can watch their child 24 hours/day. Toddlers have been known to push a stool over to unlock a door, or a door is inadvertently left unlocked or ajar. Remember, it only takes seconds for a child to become submerged.
By the way, I am following my own advice and a pool fence is going up to protect our granddaughter...the bigger the better.