When the temperature rises people flock to their local swimming pool. Pediatrician John W. Bouldin, MD, with LewisGale Physicians, provides tips to keep everyone safe when going for a swim.

With the arrival of warm weather, millions of Americans will head to the pool to beat the heat. Tragically, though, more than 200 children die each year in backyard swimming pool accidents.

The American Red Cross suggests following these guidelines to help ensure a safe swimming season:

  • Secure your pool with appropriate barriers. Completely surround your pool with a 4-feet high, non-climbable fence or barrier with a self-closing, self-latching gate that opens outward. Place a safety cover on the pool or hot tub when not in use and remove any ladders or steps used for access. Consider installing a pool alarm that goes off if anyone enters the pool, and keep a phone near the pool in case of emergency.
  • Place locks on windows and doors, including doggy doors, that lead to a pool area.
  • Keep children under active supervision at all times. Stay in arm’s reach of young kids. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends parents use "touch supervision" with infants, toddlers, and weak swimmers. This means parents should always be within an arm's length when their children are in or around water. Designate a responsible person to watch the water when people are in the pool—never allow anyone to swim alone. Have young or inexperienced swimmers wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Do not use swim aids, like inflatable arm bands, as they can deflate.
  • Ensure everyone in the home knows how to swim well by enrolling in age-appropriate water orientation and learn-to-swim courses from the Red Cross. The AAP's current position is that children ages 1-4 may be less likely to drown if they have participated in swimming lessons. Even children who take swimming lessons, though, have difficulty transferring what they learn to a situation in which they enter the pool unexpectedly. Touch supervision is still essential for young children, even if they are learning to swim.
  • Keep your pool or hot tub water clean and clear. Maintain proper chemical levels, circulation and filtration. Regularly test and adjust the chemical levels to minimize the risk of earaches, rashes or more serious diseases.
  • Establish and enforce rules and safe behaviors, such as “no diving,” “stay away from drain covers,” “swim with a buddy” and “walk please.”
  • Ensure everyone in the home knows how to respond to aquatic emergencies by having appropriate safety equipment and taking water safety, first aid and CPR courses. Be sure to equip the pool with a shepherd's hook and lifesaving rings.

The American Red Cross and National Swimming Pool Foundation® have partnered to create an online Home Pool Essentials course that describes steps home pool owners can take to prevent tragedy and keep a well maintained pool or hot tub. The course is available at Home Pool Essentials. Many swimming pool accidents are preventable. There is no way to "drown proof" a child, but there are "layers of protection," like swimming lessons and pool safety measures, that can lower the risk of drowning.

If you have further questions about swimming and pool safety, or would like to book an appointment with Dr. Bouldin, please call (540) 772-3580, or click below to book your next visit online.

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American Red Cross: www.redcross.org