June 11, 2009

Keeping Toddlers Safer In Pools

 Parents can help prevent potential accidents at the pool this summer by staying alert and attentive, said a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Baylor College of Medicine.

"A high percentage of summer drownings and accidents occur in community and residential swimming pools," said Dr. Rohit Shenoi, assistant professor of pediatrics "“ emergency medicine at BCM and Texas Children's Hospital. "By far, the most common cause of drowning is lack of supervision."

Close proximity

Parents need to keep a close watch, both physically "“ in proximity to the child "“ and mentally, with little distractions to prevent these accidents, Shenoi said.

A good rule of thumb, he said, is to implement "touch supervision," which means keeping within arms-length of your toddler at all times.

"If something does happen, you want to be able to catch your child quickly," Shenoi said. "The closer you are to the child, the less amount of time is spent under water, decreasing the chances of drowning."

Don't rely on floating devices

For toddlers, there are a variety of different floating devices (floaties, bubbles, tubes, etc) that parents typically use, but should not be relied upon.

"These are easy for a child to slip out of," said Shenoi.

Even if your child knows how to swim or attends swimming lessons, parents still need to keep a close watch.

"Knowing how to swim is always good, but in a dangerous situation it may not keep the child's head above water," Shenoi said.

Check out pool drains

Also important, he said, is to make sure the pool has two unblockable drains to prevent the child or a body part from getting stuck in the drain.

"Unfortunately, we have seen cases like this before," said Shenoi. "Survey the pool to make sure there are two drain outlets that cannot get blocked."

Additionally, for any child or adult who likes to dive, appropriate depth-marks should be present, Shenoi said.

Fence in your pool

And for families with pools at their homes, there should be a four-sided fence around the pool at least four feet tall.

"If one of the four sides is a door into the home, the child could potentially open the door and stumble in," said Shenoi. "It's much safer to have the pool completely fenced off with a self-closing latch and door."

"A big part of your child's summer fun may be time spent at the pool," said Shenoi. "You can enjoy this time together, helping to teach him or her safe behaviors while keeping an eye on them."


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