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Key safety factor? It's supervision

May 31, 2008

It takes just a few seconds for a drowning to occur.

Such a tragedy can be avoided by providing constant supervision for children and adults as well as installing layers of protection in the pool area.

Already this year in Valley pools and waterways, there have been 39 drownings or near-drownings, according to statistics compiled by local fire departments. Two children and 12 adults died.

"The biggest and foremost thing we advocate is supervision," said Capt. Victor Rangel of the Phoenix Fire Department. "Always watch your children around water."

Also important are pool barriers, such as fences with self-closing, self-locking gates, he said.

When installing pool barriers, follow your city's guidelines, available on individual city's Web sites. Most cities require that fences be at least 5 feet high and have openings that are no wider than 4 inches.

Just because you have pool barriers, don't develop a false sense of security. Make sure they work properly, and keep up with maintenance.

Never leave a child unattended at the pool for any reason. Don't be distracted by doorbells and phones. If friends or neighbors want to chat, invite them over, instead of leaving the pool area to talk. Likewise, don't turn your back on the pool to do yard work or chores or go inside the house to grab towels or snacks, even if you think you'll be only a moment or two.

If you have to leave, always take the child with you.

If you're at a pool party, whether at your pool or someone else's, designate a pool watcher. This person concentrates on watching everyone who is swimming, children and adults, to make sure there are no problems. More adults are involved in near-drowning incidents and drownings than children.

Here are other tips for a safer summer around the pool:

Enforce rules such as "no running," "no pushing" and "no dunking." Post the rules on the pool fence.

Instruct your children about pool safety and how they must never swim alone.

Don't use swimming lessons as a substitute for supervision or protecting your children from drowning.

Don't rely on "floaties" as protection devices.

Learn CPR. To find out where classes are being held, call the nearest hospital, fire department or Red Cross.

Talk with baby-sitters about supervision, pool safety and drowning prevention. Make sure they know CPR.

Don't let children use the pool area as a playground. Toys, such as tricycles and dolls, can attract young children to the pool. Remove all toys from the pool area.

Keep lifesaving equipment poolside. The equipment includes a pole, rope and life preserver.

Keep a phone at the pool when you're using it. Don't answer the phone if it rings; use it only in case of emergency.

Never prop open the gate to the pool.

Don't put chairs, stools, boxes, firewood and other items that children can climb on near pool fences.

Never leave standing water in buckets, flowerpots or other objects. A child can drown in as little as 2 inches of water.

Empty wading pools when not in use.

Don't swim alone no matter your age.

Reach the reporter at sue.doerfler@arizonarep ublic.com or 602-444-8236.

Reproduced with permission from:
The Arizona Republic
Sue Doerfler
©
Copyright 2008 Arizona Republic

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