#happylife: Keep your kids safe poolside this summer

#happylife: Keep your kids safe poolside this summer
FreeImages.com/Michel Meynsbrughen

Summer memories are made by the poolside, splashing around and playing with loved ones, but pools are also a dangerous place to be. Fun can turn to horror in just 30 seconds.

“Drowning is swift, quick and very quiet,” explained Trisha McClure with the Spokane Regional Health District.

Memorial Day to Labor Day in the US, nearly 300 children died as a result of drowning in a pool or spa in 2017 and 2018.

Drowning can happen in inches of water, not just the deep end of the pool, and is preventable.

McClure works with the PoolSafe campaign at the SRHD and said the number one thing parents need to know about keeping kids safe at the pool is that they are their best barrier from harm.

She added, “we need to take part in making sure that our kids are safe by having active supervision, which means we are watching our kids in the pool. We’re not on our cell phones, we are not reading a book– we want to be actively watching them.”

Before even stepping in to the pool area, check out the gate. Ask yourself, can your kids get in and out of the area without your help? If so, investing a pool alarm, or adding a combination lock adds an extra layer of security.

Josh Oakes supervises Spokane city pools. On hot days, some 300 kids could be swimming in one of their pools at any given time. He said whether your at one of those pools or at friend’s house, you’ve got to chat with your kids about a few things before jumping in.

Be sure to point out to your child where the deep end begins. If there is no rope inside of the pool to divide it, place an object outside of the pool for reference. Find out the depths of the pool and whether or not it is safe to jump or dive in. If it is, what location is best to do so?

If there is a lifeguard, take a moment to ask them if there is anything about the pool you should be aware of. Does the diving board get slippery? Is it a big drop from the shallow end to the deep end?

“Also making sure you can see the bottom, definitely an indicator of water quality and if someone gets in to a bad situation, you are able to see them on the bottom,” added Oakes.

At City of Spokane pools, every child who wants to jump off the diving board must pass a swim test. If you are planning on having children in your pool, giving a similar test isn’t a bad idea. You can make it fun. A competition! Have the kids race each other from one end of the shallow end to the other to see who’s the fastest. While they are doing so, you can spot any weak swimmers.

When there are several people in your pool, it’s best to remove big floats as they can make for blind spots in the pool. It’s the reason you never see them in city pools.

Oakes explained, ” so that giant flamingo is amazing and looks like a lot of fun but for our purposes at the aquatic center we don’t allow them and it’s typically for sight rules, so we can see every individual swimmer and nobody is going to get trapped underneath.”

Keep a few life jackets poolside for swimmers that might have forgotten some. If you don’t have any but want to pick some up, the Washington State Drowning Prevention Network teamed up with Big 5 to offer a 25% off coupon on life jackets. You can get one by clicking here.

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