Dear Heloise: Now is a good time to remind parents to be extra-vigilant in watching their children around swimming pools and other water hazards.
The family swimming pool is supposed to be for fun and recreation. Unfortunately, drowning incidents annually claim the lives of nearly 500 children under the age of 5. And for every child who drowns, six more are involved in near-drowning incidents resulting in permanent neurological damage, catastrophic medical costs and years of recovery and therapy.
The problem is that many parents are unaware of how to minimize the danger and that a child can drown in less time than it takes to go inside for the phone or a soda.
We commissioned a survey for parents on pool safety and found that only 41 percent said they have "layers of protection" installed around their pools. Because drowning can happen so quickly, there is no substitute for adult supervision supplemented by layers of protection. These include:
UInstall a 4-foot-high fence around the pool with a self-latching gate.
UInstall alarms on gates, doors and windows that adjoin the pool area.
UBe sure to cover the pool with a secured pool cover when the pool is not in use.
UUse an approved pool alarm.
Additional precautions include:
UNever let a child have access to the pool area without an adult present.
UIf a child is missing, always look in the pool first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
UKeep a phone poolside in case of an emergency.
UNever leave toys in the pool area. They might entice young children to the water.
UAccess to an aboveground pool should be secured and locked, or removed, when the pool is not in use.
USecure patio furniture that could be used to climb into the pool area.
UInstruct baby sitters about pool safety and the use of alarms, door latches and gates.
UTo prevent entrapment, have a professional inspect the drain suction fittings and covers on your pool and spa to be sure that they meet current safety standards.
UNever leave a child unattended. According to many studies, in nine out of 10 drowning incidents, one or more supervising adults were nearby. Todd Appleman, president and founder, PoolSafetyNetwork.org
Todd, the horrible statistics are shocking and heartbreaking! Folks, visit his Web site for information and educational resources about water safety and drowning prevention. Heloise
XSend a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or you can fax it to (210) HELOISE or e-mail it to Heloise@Heloise.com.
King Features Syndicate