The pool can cause serious injuries and fatal accidents. On average, 10 people — mostly children — drown daily in the U.S. The National Safety Council aims to reduce harm and improve health by educating the public on how to stay safe in and around bodies of water.
Keep these precautions in mind:
1. Learn CPR — Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is a life-saving skill consisting of chest compressions and artificial ventilation that supports and potentially restores breathing to a drowning victim. The technique creates a safer environment for everyone. Certified CPR training is available by local and national organizations including American Red Cross and American Heart Association.
2. Take swim lessons — Swimming is a cardiovascular exercise that can save lives. Formal swimming lessons reduce the likelihood of childhood drowning by 88 percent. Training is available for parents and children 12 months of age and older.
3. Secure the area — When a pool’s not in use, it’s critical to secure the area with a sturdy and appropriate barrier. This can include a four-sided isolation fence with a self-latching gate, or for above ground pools, locking the cover and/or removing steps. Pool owners can install warning signs or an alarm system to sound off when anyone’s nearby.
4. Cover drains — Drains, filters and pool pumps are potentially hazardous. Sometimes drain suction is strong enough to pull swimmers under. Prevent accidents and injuries by investing in a drain cover that’s properly-fitted and federally compliant.
5. Shower first — Rinse off before stepping into any pool. A 1-minute shower rids the body of germs on skin and hair, which protects individuals and other swimmers. Children and adults should always visit the restroom before entering the pool. People with diarrhea or other waterborne illnesses should avoid swimming.
6. Provide supervision — Adults should stay close to their little ones (to see and hear) during water-based activities. Lifeguards and pool monitors are responsible for watching large groups, so accidents may be overlooked. Provide appropriately-sized floatation devices/life jackets and keep children in areas designated for their age group, height or swim level.
7. Avoid swallowing pool water — Chlorine does not kill all germs. Pool water can host microscopic parasites and other bacteria that are potentially harmful to swimmers who ingest it. This can lead to a recreational water illness (RWI), which often causes infection and/or diarrhea.
8. Have a first aid kit handy — Always have a first aid kit nearby for minor injuries. They often contain packing bandages, gauze, Band-Aids, adhesive tape, antiseptic and non-latex gloves. Sprains, minor burns or localized area allergic reactions can be addressed at an urgent care center. For serious emergencies, dial 911 and request immediate medical assistance. Provide clear and accurate information regarding the incident and location.
Why is this so important?
Survivors of near drowning are treated in emergency rooms, but more than half are hospitalized or transferred for further care. They can often experience brain damage, which causes memory problems, learning disabilities or permanent loss of basic functions. The goal is to prevent such outcomes by being prepared, enforcing safety and supervision at the pool.
About the author: T. Jann Caison-Sorey is a senior medical director at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. For more health tips, visit AHealthierMichigan.org.