With summer weather still in full swing, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department is sending out a reminder to Poway residents about pool safety.
According to the agency, drowning is a leading cause of accidental deaths of children ages 1 to 4. Most drownings occur during the summer months. During the last four years, there have been seven accidental drownings of children, age 9 and under, in San Diego County. So far in 2013, there have been seven drownings. This is the high-risk season for drowning and these tragedies are preventable. Please be extra vigilant for the safety of your loved ones, who are unable to swim safely themselves.
The San Diego County Sheriff's Department encourages parents to talk with kids about the importance of water safety just as they talk about street safety, bike safety and stranger safety. They recommend the following:
- Constant supervision is the most important safeguard in and around the water. 70 percent of drownings occur with one or both parents present and supervision breaks down. If you cannot find your child, check the pool first; seconds count!
- Never leave your child alone in the bathtub or pool — not even for a second.
- Do not leave the pool to answer a phone, because that is enough time for disaster. Bring a cellphone to the pool or ignore the call. Your child is more important.
- NEVER USE FLOTATION DEVICES! These create a false sense of security. Studies show parents whose children use flotation devices do not watch their children as closely.
- Leave a responsible ADULT in charge of safety. Do not delegate this task to an older sibling. This is too much responsibility. Many children have drowned with an older sibling watching them in the pool.
- Never assume someone else is watching your child. If you and your spouse are by the pool, delegate supervision to one person and then trade.
Maintain a safe home pool environment. The goal is to put as many barriers as possible between your child and the pool:
- Every backyard body of water should be completely fenced with a barrier, between your house and the water, designed to keep children out.
- Install high locks with chimes on every door and window. Consider getting a pool alarm.
- Do not leave chairs or anything else near the pool a child could climb the fence with.
- Make sure all applicable windows of your house provide a clear unimpeded view of the pool so you can easily spot a child by the pool unattended.
- DO NOT leave any toys near a pool that would attract a child to the pool.
- Keep the pool clean. Cloudy or murky water can be a hazard.
- Water levels should be 3-4 inches from the top to make climbing out easier.
- Monitor fatigue levels of swimmers and make them take short breaks if they need to.
- Take the time to orient your child to a new pool, or new children to your pool. Point out the shallow end, the deep end, the steps, and your specific rules for your pool.
- When going to the beach have your child wear the same color suit every time so that they are easier to spot in the crowds. Think how much easier it would be if your whole family wears the same color suit. Bring a picture of your child so no time is lost if your child is missing.
- Do research on the swimming program you choose. Not all have safety and drowning prevention as their primary goal.