ABCs of pool safety for summer

One great thing about living in the desert is the hot summer months. Although some people find comfort in the form of an air-conditioned room with their feet up on the arm of the couch, others like to indulge themselves in the clear blue waters of a swimming pool.

As the warmest days of the year are approaching, it’s important to remember a few swimming safety tips that will ensure you and yours a safe and pleasurable time around the pool. Pool-related mishaps, including accidental drownings, are a real threat in Southern Nevada.

According to the Southern Nevada Health District, 64 drowning-related incidents occurred in Clark County since 2012, of which 48 involved a child 4 years old or younger. Of those 48 cases, 43 were fatal, and all were 100 percent preventable.

Over the past decade on average, more than 80 percent of all drowning incidents in Clark County involved a child 4 years old or younger. Nationwide, drowning is the No. 1 cause of all deaths associated with children 5 years old or younger and occurs mostly in residential pools and spas.

Swimming pools, both residential and public, are a great way to beat the heat and enjoy quality time with family and friends, and by following the ABCs of swimming safety you can ensure tragedy does not happen in your home.

The ABCs of Pool Safety is an awareness program adopted by the Southern Nevada Health District, the YMCA and the American Heart Association. The letters ABC are a reference to help remember three things: adult supervision, barriers and classes.

Adult supervision

F irst , an adult should be in attendance at all times when children are in or around the swimming pool. It takes only a momentary lapse in supervision to put a child at risk of submersion , regardless of his or her age or swimming abilit y.

There should be a designated adult present at all times with a view free of bushes, trees or other obstacles to maintain eye contact with those swimming. It’s easy to fall into a false sense of security when there are several adults outside also enjoying the pool or spa. However, it is important to have a minimum of one person whose sole duty is to keep a close watch on those swimming.

Items such as rafts, arm floaties and life jackets are not safe alternatives to adult supervision. Any time the adult responsible for watching the children is drawn away by some form of distraction — no matter how short the time — it is imperative to have everyone removed from the pool until the supervisor is able to return.

The adult in charge should also have quick access to a phone; in the event of a pool-related accident, call 911 immediately.

Barriers

Second, by isolating your swimming pool and spa by a self-closing and self-latching gate and fence you can reduce the occurrence of unsupervised children accidently falling into the pool. Understand that parenting is difficult, and it’s not always easy to keep an eye on your child 24/7.

Children are inquisitive by nature and the added excitement of having a pool or spa only draws in their curiosity even more.

By having a security gate that separates your pool or spa from the rest of your yard or play area, you significantly minimize the risk of your child accidently finding his or her way into the water. Gates on the fences or other barriers should be a minimum of 5 feet high. The gates should have a self- latching locking device high enough to be out of the reach of any child .

In addition to any barriers around the perimeter of the pool or spa there are other steps to take to increase their effectiveness . An approved pool or spa safety cover that withstands the weight of someone falling on top of it provides another barrier .

Also, any doors or windows leading to the pool area should be kept securely closed and closely monitored. Doggy doors have been notorious ways out for children small enough to fit through.

Any table , chair , or pool toy large enough for a child to climb on in an attempt to unlock the latch securing the gate should be kept within the safety barrier or removed from the pool area after us e.

Classes

The third letter stands for classes. The two most important classes that all parents should be familiar with are swimming lessons and CPR . If you own a pool, frequent a public pool or enjoy swimming with family or friends, swimming lessons for yourself and your children are essential. Swimming is not a natural skill and requires education on proper practice and technique.

Swimming lessons prove to be lifelong lesson that your child will greatly benefit from.

As a parent, the single most important class you can take is CPR , not only in the event of a pool- or spa-related accident, but in the numerous ways your child could potentially find him or her in the need of immediate emergency life-saving interventions. It has been proved that a quick response of CPR to those in need gives them a greater chance of surviving any misfortune.

The city’s Municipal Swimming Pool offers parent-baby swimming lessons for children 6 months to 4 years old . Parents are in the water with their child assisting the swimming teachers .

The pool also offers private and group setting swim classes for kids 4 years and older.

The Boulder City Fire Department offers a bimonthly CPR class to people of all ages. You can learn more about these classes and register for either class by visiting the city Parks and Recreation building, 900 Arizona St.

Other measures

Remember, alcohol will greatly increase your chances of having a submersion incident and should be consumed only in moderation. Alcohol slows your cognition and ability to recognize an emergency, as well as disrupts the functioning of the inner ear responsible for balance. Avoid alcohol while swimming or supervising those swimming, and increase your likelihood of avoiding any accidents.

Horseplay and diving into shallow ends of the pool should also be avoided. In the event there is an accident or emergency, call 911. Paramedics train for such measures and are prepared to handle any number of pool-related events. If you have any additional questions or concerns, visit www.abcpoolsafety.org or contact me at the firehouse at 293-9228. Happy safe swimming!

Brian Shea is a Boulder City paramedic/firefighter. If you have further questions about this or any fire safety issue, contact the Boulder City Fire Department at 293-9228.

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