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Before diving in, complete a pool safety check

Robert Thomas, Information Specialist, Extension & Ag Information, University of Missouri

Each year about 300 children nationwide under the age of 5 drown in swimming pools—most often a pool owned by the family, said Karen Funkenbusch, MU Safety Specialist.

“A child can drown in less time than it takes to answer the telephone,” she said. “The number one thing to keep in mind is there is no substitution for supervision. Never leave a child alone in a pool or spa for even one second.”

During social gatherings at or near a pool, appoint a designated watcher to protect young children from pool accidents. Adults can take turns. Instruct babysitters about potential pool hazards.

If a child is missing, check the pool first. “Seconds can be critical,” Funkenbusch said. “Don’t consider young children to be drown-proof because they had swimming lessons.”

Do not use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision. Many of these devices are only toys, she said. Make sure your pool is equipped with proper rescue equipment that includes a ring buoy with an attached line or a long-handled hook.

Keep chairs, tables and toys away from the fence surrounding the pool to keep children from using them to climb over. Install a phone near the pool or keep a cell phone nearby so that you can answer a call without leaving the pool area, Funkenbusch recommended.

Always remove a pool or spa cover completely before use to avoid the possibility of anyone being trapped and drowning under the cover.

Make sure your pool is surrounded by a properly latched or locked fence or barrier. Lock doors to limit access to the pool. Doors leading to a pool should also have audible alarms.

Drowning is a silent killer. There often is no splashing or calling out to alert someone that a child is in trouble, she said.

Learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Baby sitters and other caretakers should also learn CPR.

Source: Karen Funkenbusch, (573) 882-2731


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Last Updated 05/23/2011