By Charlotte County Health Department –

playing in swimming poolThe Charlotte County Health Department asks residents and visitors to be extra vigilant about water safety by adopting and practicing water safety procedures when children are participating in water activities. Children will spend the hot days of summer playing in pool areas and swimming, but despite the fun, pool safety is a serious subject and must be made a top priority.

Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death in the United States for children between the ages of one and four, with Florida leading the nation. In 2010, Charlotte County lost three children between the ages of one and four to pool drownings resulting in death.

Three basic “layers of protection” of pool safety will help keep children who are swimming safe this season:

  • Layer 1-Supervision: Children should never be allowed in the pool area without an adult responsible for supervision. Supervision is the most critical layer of protection. Designate a water watcher so you know who is in charge of watching children in pool.
  • Layer 2-Barriers: A barrier is an object or device that physically blocks children from entering the pool area. Use a number of different barriers to ensure safety: for your home, child-proof locks and door alarms on all doors that open to the outside; and for the pool area, a fence with a self-closing and self-latching gate, and gate and pool alarms. The Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act (Chapter 515, Florida Statutes) requires at least one physical barrier for pools built after 2000. More than 90 percent of Florida’s home swimming pools were built before the law.
  • Layer 3-Emergency Preparedness: Always be prepared for a water emergency. Learn life-saving skills, know proper emergency procedures and keep a phone in the pool area in case you need to call 911. Many organizations offer Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and rescue-technique classes at little or no cost. Finally, ask your health care provider about age-appropriate swimming lessons in your area.

Teach your child to have a respect for the water at a young age. Swim lessons are important but they aren’t enough. A child may know how to swim but should never be without supervision. Something as simple as keeping a cell phone by the pool can help prevent a drowning death. The phone can be used in emergencies or to keep a caretaker from having to leave the pool area to answer. Small children don’t splash or make noise when they are in trouble in the water. Usually, a child drowning occurs quickly and without a sound, according to Safe Kids, USA, which notes that loss of consciousness will occur only two minutes after a child sinks underwater.

If you have a child and a swimming pool, follow these safety tips:

  • Never leave a child unattended near a pool. There is no substitute for adult supervision.
  • Designate a “Water Watcher” to maintain constant watch over children in the pool during gatherings.
  • The home should be isolated from the pool with a fence at least 60” tall, with a self-closing, self-latching gate. The gate should open away from the pool, and should never be propped open.
  • Doors and windows leading to pools should have alarms on them to alert adults when opened.
  • Power-operated pool safety covers are the most convenient and efficient. Solar/floating pool covers are not safety devices.
  • Keep a phone poolside so that you never have to leave the pool to answer the phone, and can call for help if needed.
  • Learn CPR and rescue breathing.
  • Keep a life-saving ring, shepherd’s hook and CPR instructions mounted at poolside.
  • Do not use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision.
  • If a child is missing, always check the pool first. Seconds count.
  • Instruct babysitters about potential pool hazards, and emphasize the need for constant supervision.
  • Do not consider children “drownproof” because they’ve had swimming lessons.

For more information about water safety visit:
www.WaterproofFL.com

Free pool safety door and window alarms for Charlotte County residents
Charlotte County is one of the top ten counties in Florida with the highest number of child drowning deaths. The Florida Department of Health, Injury Prevention Program, has provided the top ten counties with door alarms to distribute to local residents with pools. The door alarms will alert parents if a door or window leading to the pool is opened. The Charlotte County Health Department is partnering with the Early Learning Coalition of Florida’s Heartland, Inc., (ELCFH) to help distribute the alarms. Residents can pick up one door alarm while supplies last. Pick up times are Monday through Thursday at the ELCFH-Charlotte Office from 7:30am – 6:30pm at 2886 Tamiami Trail, Suite 1 (look for the big blue awning). Residents will need to provide an email address when they pick up their alarm. They may be contacted by the Florida Department of Health to participate in a survey on the effectiveness of the alarm. For questions about availability please call: 941-255-1650 x100.