Health Tip: Keeping Backyard Pools Safe

Vigilance can save your child's life

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(HealthDay News) -- Summer is a time for fun, but not for carelessness, especially around pools and other water areas.

As the school year comes to a close, parents must be vigilant while their children swim.

Because more than 350 young children drown in pools each year nationwide, and more than half of these incidents occur in June, July and August, the American Red Cross is encouraging families with young children -- especially those with backyard pools -- to learn several safety tips for preventing accidental drownings:

  • Never leave a child unattended near water. Because it only takes a second for a small child to fall into a pool and slip underwater, adult supervision is always required during pool usage.
  • Keep basic lifesaving equipment near the pool, and learn how to use it: a reaching pole, a portable phone and U.S. Coast Guard-approved flotation devices such as life jackets and ring buoys. Many families with backyard pools also install pool alarms, which can offer an extra layer of protection when used correctly.
  • Surround a backyard pool with a fence at least four feet high on all sides. To prevent a child from gaining access to the water, the fence should have a self-closing, self-latching gate that remains locked when the pool is not being used.
  • Keep toys away from the pool area because toys can distract children.
  • Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Families with backyard pools must insist that babysitters, grandparents and anyone else who cares for their children learn lifesaving CPR. Post clear CPR instructions and your local emergency number in a visible place near the pool in case of an emergency.
  • Make an emergency plan. If a child is missing from the pool area, check the pool first. Make sure to go to the edge of the pool and scan the entire body of water, bottom and surface, as well as the surrounding pool area.

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