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How Can You Keep Kids Safe Around Water?

By Jennifer Foss, R.N.

(ARA) - As temperatures heat up, your kids are probably digging out their swimsuits and heading for the pool. Afternoons of swimming and splashing can burn up a lot of energy, but pool time fun can also result in accidents. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), each year nearly 350 children under the age of 5 drown in swimming pools. Another 2,600 are treated in emergency rooms for near-drowning incidents. So how do you protect your children around water? Consider these suggestions to help ensure safe summertime fun.

Put Supervision First

Your little "fish" should never be left unattended around water. Whether you're at the lake, in your backyard pool, or at the neighborhood pool, young children need constant supervision. Don't rely on the watchful eye of the lifeguard, either. In a crowded pool of splashing, boisterous children, it's difficult for a lifeguard to monitor each child. Children can drown in a matter of minutes. Also, enforce rules about horseplay and never use floatation devices as a substitute for supervision.

Consider Safety Devices

Almost 80 percent of drowning and near-drowning incidents occur at home, according to the CPSC. If you own a pool, there are safety devices you can use to help protect your family. A fence should be your first line of defense. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, most children who drown in pools wander out of the house and fall into the pool. When choosing a fence, make sure it's at least five feet high with a self-closing, self-latching gate.

A motorized pool cover may also be used, but should not replace a fence. The cover should withstand the weight of two adults and a child in case someone falls onto the cover and need to be rescued. Because a child can drown in only a few inches of water, make sure that the cover is tight enough to prevent standing water. Never use a pool with its pool cover partially in place, because a child could become trapped underneath.

Pool owners may also consider alarms to alert them when a child has entered the pool area or fallen in the water. Door alarms can warn when a door leading to the pool is unexpectedly opened. Water disturbance alarms can detect when a child has fallen into the pool. Parents may also choose to invest in wristband alarms that signal a remote receiver if a child falls in the pool and gets the wristband wet. Remember -- alarms are no substitute for proper supervision.

Rely on Your Sense

High-tech gizmos may help safeguard your children around water, but don't forget about old-fashioned common sense. Consider these tips before your kids head for the water.

- Keep lifesaving equipment such as a shepherd's pole, life preserver and rope in the pool area.

- Keep a phone by the pool in case of emergency, and so you don't need to leave the pool area. A child can drown in the time it takes to answer the telephone

- Enroll your child in swimming lessons.

- Make sure that you and anyone who watches your children knows CPR.

Courtesy of ARA Content

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