Summertime Swimming – Focusing On Safety For The Most Vulnerable Populations

By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley) – Temperatures are heating up, school is almost out for the summer, and that means it is time to look forward to summertime activities.  Most children’s favorite thing to do over the summer is to go swimming, but it can be very dangerous and in some cases deadly if proper precautions are not heeded.

This year safety advocate groups are focusing on populations most at risk of drowning, including children younger than 5 years old who represent nearly 75 percent of child drowning fatalities and African American and Hispanic children between the ages of 5 and 14 who drown at higher rates than white children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Data from USA Swimming indicates that 70 percent of African American children and 62 percent of Hispanic children cannot swim, making them especially vulnerable populations.

To best ensure everyone’s safety at the pool this summer, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests the following tips for you and your family:

Swimming Lessons

Children need to learn to swim. The AAP supports swimming lessons for most children 4 years and older. Because of recent research, the AAP no longer advises against swimming lessons for children 1 to 4 years of age. Keep in mind that because children develop at different rates, each child will be ready to swim at his own rate. Other factors parents may consider before starting swimming lessons for younger children include frequency of exposure to water, emotional maturity, physical limitations, and health concerns related to swimming pools (i.e., swallowing water, infections, pool chemicals).

An adult should actively watch children at all times while they are in a pool. For infants and toddlers, an adult should be in the water and within arm’s reach, providing “touch supervision.”  For older children, an adult should be paying constant attention and free from distractions, like talking on the phone, socializing, tending household chores, or drinking alcohol. The supervising adult must know how to swim.

Pool Fences

Children can climb out of a window, through a doggy door, or sneak out of a door to get to the backyard and the pool. To prevent small children from entering the pool area on their own, there should be a fence that completely surrounds the pool or spa. Combined with the watchful eyes of an adult, a fence is the best way to protect your child and other children who may visit or live nearby.

Pool fences should also

  • Be climb-resistant and should not have anything alongside it (such as lawn furniture) that can be used to climb it.
  • Be at least 4 feet high and have no footholds or handholds that could help a child climb it.
  • Have no more than 4 inches between vertical slats. Chain-link fences are very easy to climb and are not recommended as pool fences. If they must be used, the diamond shape should not be bigger than 1¾ inches.
  • Have a gate that is well maintained and is self-closing and self-latching. It should only open away from the pool. The latches should be higher than a child can reach – 54 inches from the bottom of the gate.
  • For above-ground pools always keep children away from steps or ladders. When the pool is not in use, lock or remove the ladders to prevent access by children.

Pool Rules

If you have a pool, insist that the following rules are followed:

  • Keep toys away from the pool when the pool is not in use.
  • Empty blow-up pools after each use.
  • No tricycles or other riding toys at poolside.
  • No electrical appliances near the pool.
  • No diving in a pool that is not deep enough.
  • No running on the pool deck.

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