Commentary by Cindy Love
Pools are a wonderful way to cool off and have fun during the summer. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for children between age 1 and 4.
Make your pool safe
Backyard pools should be surrounded by at least a 4-foot fence with a locked gate to prevent a child from entering a pool unattended. Consider a pool alarm to alert you if someone falls into the pool. Inflatable pools can pose a risk as a child can lean against the side and fall face-first into the pool. Keep these pools drained unless an adult is supervising. If a child is missing, always check the pool first.
Use appropriate floatation devices
If a child can’t swim, he or she needs to wear a floatation device to stay safe. Life jackets or “puddle jumpers” are good options for children until they learn how to swim confidently. Inflatable “floaties” are not safe as they can deflate, or a child can slide them off on their own.
Start swim classes early
It’s important for children to not fear the water and learn survival skills such as floating and treading water. Swim lessons don’t ever replace supervision around water!
Plan for supervision
Adult supervision is key to keeping children safe. Avoid being distracted by other activities, such as reading or a cellphone, even if a lifeguard is present. Children under age 5 should always be within “touch” supervision of an adult. If your child is going swimming with a friend’s family or babysitter, let them know about your child’s swimming abilities.
Cindy Love is a childbirth educator and pediatric nurse practitioner at IU Health North Hospital in Carmel.