For the second straight year, Georgia is on track to have a high number of pool and spa drownings – among the highest in the country.
Three children under the age of 15 drowned in a swimming pool or spa during the month of May alone in Georgia, according to media-reported drownings tracked by USA Swimming Foundation. That’s behind California with six and Arizona with five. Through June 1, there have been five pool and hot tub drownings in Georgia.
Swim safety experts urge parents to be vigilant, especially since Georgia’s swimming season stretches over several months.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)’s Pool Safely campaign has launched the Pool Safely Pledge, a checklist that adults can use to commit to a safe swim season. To take the pledge, go to PSC’s Pool Safely Pledge for kids and adults: http://www.poolsafely.gov/pledge/
Tips for keeping children safe around water
1. Designate a “water watcher. This person should not be reading or texting. They should never take their eyes off the children, said Nadyne Siegel Brown. She recommends adults take turns and have a designated person watching at all times.
2. Even if your child can swim, vigilance is needed. A child can slip and fall, get tired or play a dangerous water game such as the “hold your breath.”
3. Learn to swim and teach your children to swim. Swimming lessons can protect against drowning. Even children who’ve had lessons must be carefully supervised. Barriers, such as pool fencing, helps prevent unsupervised access. SwimKids of Georgia will begin offering aquatics survival classes for adults in August. Information: www.swimkidsofgeorgia.com.
4. Learn CPR. In the time it takes for paramedics to arrive, your CPR skills can save a life.
5. Talk to your children about water safety. Children as young as 3 1/2 should be taught to never go into the water without a parent or guardian.
6. Air-filled or foam toys are not safety devices. Don’t use water wings, noodles or inner-tubes instead of life jackets. These toys are not designed to keep swimmers safe.
7. Drowning can happen quickly and quietly. You might expect a drowning person to splash or yell for help but that rarely happens. Often times, people quietly slip beneath the water.
8. Avoid the “everyone is watching, no one is watching scenario.” Family and friends gather at a backyard barbecue and pool party. Adults assume everyone is watching the kids, but no one is watching.
9. Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings. Drains should be covered with federally-approved covers to avoid suction entrapment.
10. Install pool fences. More than half of all drownings involving young children can be prevented by four-sided fencing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fences should be at least four feet high and have self-closing, self-latching gates that open outward. The latches should be out of a child’s reach.