Whether you’re at a local community pool or a pool in your own backyard, spending warm summer days poolside can be fun for the whole family. However, while days at the pool are a summertime staple, it is crucial to keep pool safety front of mind to avoid potentially life-threatening incidents like drownings.
“Drowning accidents typically occur quickly and quietly, which is why it is so imperative to be observant at all times when you are in or near bodies of water like pools,” says Maury Regional Emergency Medical Services Director Brian Hupp.
As you make plans for trips to the pool this summer, consider these seven pool safety recommendations:
- Designate a responsible adult to monitor children swimming or playing in or near the water — even if there is a lifeguard on duty. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately one in five people who die from drowning incidents are children ages 14 and younger. Drowning is also the second leading cause of death for this age group. Make certain that infants, toddlers and weak swimmers are within reach at all times and that the supervising adult is not distracted or under the influence of alcohol.
- Never swim alone. If possible, choose pools that have a lifeguard on duty. While at the pool, always implement the buddy system so that should an incident occur, the other person can provide assistance or get help.
- Consider swim lessons. Formal swim lessons are valuable at all ages to help reduce the risk of drowning and to increase confidence in the water. However, accidents can still happen among trained swimmers, so it remains important not to develop a false sense of security.
- Weaker swimmers should wear a personal flotation device while in the water. While all individuals should wear a life jacket while in or around natural bodies of water (e.g., lakes or rivers), these can also be valuable tools in the swimming pool for those who have not had swim lessons or who are not confident swimmers. Personal flotation devices include life jackets, swim vests or water wings. However, accidents can still happen when wearing a flotation device, so continue to take precautions and pay attention to your surroundings.
- If you have a pool at your home, look into preventive measures, including fencing, locks and motion detectors. The CDC recommends installing a four-sided, four-foot-tall fence that separates the pool area from the house and yard to prevent children from wandering into the pool without supervision. Locking mechanisms and motion detectors are also recommended. If you have a pool and your child cannot be located in the house, always check the pool area first.
- Keep a phone close by and always call 911 in an emergency.
- Know how to perform CPR if necessary. If a lifeguard is not present during a drowning incident, supervising adults should be familiar with the basics of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). After first calling an ambulance, begin performing chest compressions until the ambulance arrives. This can be done by placing the heel of one hand on the center of the chest and pushing hard and fast with both hands about 100 times per minute. CPR should be continued until the person regains consciousness or a rescue team arrives.
“When it comes to a drowning, seconds count,” Hupp says. “By taking quick action, you have a much greater chance for a positive outcome.”
Brian Hupp is the director of Maury Regional Emergency Medical Services (EMS), which serves Maury, Lewis and Wayne counties in southern Middle Tennessee.