According to a report released by Safewise, Florida is among the top five states with the highest fatality rates for drowning in the United States. There is no doubt that we must be extremely vigilant about safety — at all times — when kids are near pools.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 350 under the age of 5 drown in pools every year. Half of those incidents take place in a backyard family pool. June, July and August are the peak months for drownings nationally, which only makes sense. Opportunities are more common in warm, sunny states like Florida and Arizona.
One study of drownings in those two states showed 75 percent of victims were under age 3. Two in three occurred in the family’s backyard pool, while the remainder were at a friend’s or relative’s pool.
That study also noted something you may find surprising:
• Most of the pre-3-year-old victims were being supervised by adults at the time of the incident.
• In nearly 70% of the cases, adults later said they hadn’t realized the children had wandered near the pool; half said they’d last seen the child in the house.
• Three in four said the child had been out of sight for five minutes at most. That’s how short a time it takes for something horrible to happen.
Recognition of that reality is key to pool safety.
Child drowning is known as a “silent killer.” Often, an adult lifeguard is distracted by a phone call or a doorbell. The supervisor takes his or her eye off the prize, and something horrible happens. Parents know that this occurs frequently any time of the day. With an accessible pool, the consequences, again, can be tragic.
Here are guidelines from various sources, including a website started by a North Port nonprofit foundation, Just Against Children Drowning, which was begun after the 2010 drowning of two year-old twins:
• Make sure the backyard pool is can’t be accessed. Make sure toddlers can’t wander out of the house into the lanai. Keep doors shut.
• Consider installing a self-latching gate around the pool.
• You can buy a pool alarm for $200-$300. Research which one makes the most sense for you.
• Recognize that an alarm is backup protection. Never leave a child unattended near water. Keep them in sight.
• If you are having a family pool party, designate a lifeguard. Never assume someone else is watching. Make sure.
• Keep toys and other kiddie-magnets out of the pool when it’s not in use.
• If a child is suddenly missing, always check the pool first. Every second counts in resuscitation efforts.
• Make sure baby-sitters know the house rules.
• The earlier that kids understand that water is dangerous, the better. Train them. Children need to know they shouldn’t be around a pool without an adult present.
• Keep toys and other attractive items out of the pool when not in use. Kids are curious.
The only good that can possibly happen in the aftermath of after such a terrible incident is that other adults recognize how quickly and silently the worst can occur. Be mindful at all times.
An editorial from the Charlotte Sun.