Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of pool season again because most public and private pools open for the first time in the year. It's a good time for parents to review their water and pool safety rules.
Here is a snippet of some tips we've shared from the now-defunct "Parenting the First Time Through" blog:
Never leave a child unsupervised Children should never be left unsupervised in the water, especially very young children. It only takes a few inches of water to drown, so don’t think that your toddler will be fine alone in the baby pool. Accidents happen, children can fall and hit their head, infants can lose their balance and go under, or even crawl into a slightly deeper section of a sloped wading pool while chasing a toy. '
In its Drowning Prevention Fact Sheet, Safekids.org states that since 1999, an average of 745 children under the age of 14 drown every year, with children under the age of 5 representing 76% of all deaths. Further, in 2009 more than 5000 children under the age of 14 suffered non-fatal near-drowning injuries. Children under 5 made up 80% of this number.
These numbers are startling and should be a call to vigilance for parents, especially those who own pools at home. Safekids.org goes on to say 72% of deaths and 55% of injuries occur at home pools under the age of 5, while 45% of fatalities in the older age bracket (5 to 14) occur at public facilites. Even inflatable pools are not exempt. In just those few inches of water there were 244 reported submersion cases between 2001 and 2009 in children under age 11.
Don’t count on the lifeguards to babysit - While public pools and beaches may employ lifeguards, don’t count on them as the sole supervisor of your children. They are there to help make the swimming area as safe an environment as possible for everyone. That means they are watching not just your children, but you, your friends, your friends’ children, and every other swimmer. That’s a lot of people.
In sum, be vigilante.