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April 10, 2013

APRIL POOLS: Keeping summer activities safe

By DR JEFFREY LINK | Emergency Medicine Physician

To prepare for summer fun filled with picnics, swimming pools and vacations, it is important to be aware of the dangers associated with summertime activities and how to take proper action.

Although most drownings occur in residential swimming pools, children can drown in just one inch of water (such as in buckets, bath tubs, wading pools, diaper pails, toilets, hot tubs, and spas). In addition, open waters such as oceans, rivers, and lakes pose a drowning threat to older children. The majority of children who survive being submerged in water without brain damage are discovered within two minutes, and most who die are found after 10 minutes. 

Parents are advised to take the following preventive steps to protect their children from drowning:

• Never leave your child unsupervised near water at or in the home, or around any body of water, including a swimming pool.

• Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and infant and child first-aid.

• Do not rely on personal flotation devices (PFDs) or swimming lessons to protect your child.

• Install childproof fencing around swimming pools.

• Make sure you have rescue equipment, a telephone, and emergency phone numbers near the swimming pool.

• Insist that your child wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device on boats at all times.

• Do not allow children to dive in waters less than 9 feet deep.

A warning about personal flotation devices:

On boats, PFDs should be U.S. Coast Guard-approved and should fit properly. Inflatable swimming devices, such as “water wings,” rafts, toys, and other items, are not considered safe and should not be relied on to prevent drowning.

Water safety in and around the home:

More than half of all infant drownings (under age 1) occur in bathtubs. Supportive baby bathtub “rings” do not prevent drownings if the child is unsupervised. Water hazards in and around the home may include the following:

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