A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Prevent drowning: Tips to keep kids safe in backyard pools

girl standing in a kiddie poolImagine a nice hot day in July, your young child cooling off in a small, portable backyard swimming pool. For only a moment, you run into the house to get something and when you come out, your child is lying in the pool, drowning.

For families, it’s an unthinkable scenario that sadly plays out every summer.

Drowning poses risk for young children

According to the medical journal Pediatrics, drowning claims the lives of about 1,100 American children every year, making it the second leading cause of unintentional injury death in children younger than age 20.

Thousands more children suffer severe long-term neurologic deficits because of extended submersion. Most of these deaths and injuries involve young children rather than adolescents.

“Just as in a bathtub, a child can slip and fall in a portable pool,” said Dr. Jeff Clark, a Marshfield Clinic Health System pediatrician. “A child can drown in a few seconds in less than two inches of water. Kids have drowned when the caregiver ran inside to get something.”

Clark recommends putting together a tote basket containing anything you might need by the pool. Instead of putting these items away on a shelf, keep them in the basket and don’t go to the pool without it. And always take your cell phone. This could save making return trips to the house.

If you need to leave the pool area, take the child with you. It only takes a moment for a drowning – a preventable tragedy – to occur.

For guidelines to prevent drowning:

  • Never be more than an arm’s reach from a toddler.
  • Devote full attention at all times to the child or children in the pool.
  • Use your cell phone for emergencies only, not for entertainment.
  • Stay sober.

“All caregivers – day care providers, baby sitters, siblings and other relatives – must agree to abide by this ‘no child left behind’ rule,” he said. “These individuals are just as likely and perhaps even more so than a child’s parent to leave a toddler alone in an unrecognized dangerous situation.”

Parents, do you have advice for keeping kids safe during summer? Share it with us!  Post your comment below.

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