Diving Into Pool Safety

Pool time is one of the most popular ways for families to escape the summer heat. Unfortunately, pool-related activities can be very dangerous for infants and small children.

The CDC ranks drowning fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States.

Did you know that a baby or toddler can drown silently within 30 seconds and in less than an inch of water?

Here are a few tips to keep summer swimming safe and fun for the entire family.

Constant supervision is essential

  • Don’t allow children to swim alone or without adult supervision, no matter their level of swimming skills. An adult should be within an arm's length of infants and toddlers in or around water.
  • Pool parties are fun, but they are riddled with distractions. Always know where your children are and never assume someone else is watching them. If your child is missing, check the pool first.

Prevention saves lives

  • Establish family pool rules early on – such as never entering the water without Mommy or Daddy and prepare a family emergency action plan that includes access to a phone for emergency situations and keeping life jackets or preservers nearby.
  • Never put a baby less than six months old under the water. Although infants naturally hold their breath under water, they continue to swallow.
  • Younger children, older than age one, may benefit from swimming lessons, but check with your doctor first. Parents who do not know how to swim or are uncomfortable near the water should also enroll in swim lessons.

Secure the area

  • Install a second lock on all doors leading to the pool well out of a toddler’s reach. Door and pool alarms can serve as a warning sound of unauthorized access to the pool area.
  • Fence in the pool area completely with a minimum height of 48 inches that includes a self-closing/self-locking gate. All entrances should be closed and locked when not in use.
  • Children are curious by nature. Keep all “climbable” objects away from the fence and store toys away from the pool to avoid temptation.
  • Pool safety covers offer another layer of safety precaution and full water levels ensure that if a child falls in they can reach the ledge. Make sure you invest in a sturdy pool cover that can support the weight of a pet or small child.
  • Pool drains are a hidden home hazard that most people forget about. The suction from a pool drain can be strong enough to hold even an adult underwater, pulling on the hair or on the body and forming a seal that holds them down. Install compliant anti-entrapment devices as a necessary prevention measure.

Remember, seconds count

  • If something happens, stay calm and react quickly and effectively. Children will panic if the adult panics.

To be better prepared, enroll in a local infant/child CPR class at a local YMCA or the American Red Cross. For available classes in the New Orleans area, click here.

With the proper pre-cautions in place, pool activities can still be a joyous occasion for the whole family. 

Patrick Jake Cripe

Patrick Jake Cripe, MD
Dr. Cripe attended University of Texas School of Medicine in Galveston, TX and did his residency in Pediatrics at University of Texas Southwestern... read more