With summer in full swing, many people are preparing for fun at swimming pools and lakes. Be aware, though, that drowning is the third leading cause of accidental death of children. Following some simple safety rules will make this a fun time, not one of tragedy.
A drowning can happen in seconds, often in the time it takes to answer a phone. In many cases an adult is nearby. No one is able to watch a child every second of the day. Children under the age of six should wear a life vest anytime they are around water, even on a beach. For children, the plastic blow up water wings that go around a child’s arms are NOT an approved personal flotation device, and should not be relied upon as a child safety device. When purchasing a life vest, make sure the Coast Guard has approved it. If you only need a life vest occasionally, the Palatine Fire Department has a loaner program in conjunction with the BOAT/US Foundation that allows residents to check out a child-sized vest for up to 2 weeks. Call the Fire Department at (847) 202-6340 for more information on this program.
Just because you are around a home or park district pool, hot tub or spa, you should not let your guard down about the danger of drowning. Items such as a life ring that can be extented to the person until help arrives should be nearby. Also good to have on hand is a long handled pole that can be extended the person so they can be pulled to the side of the pool. If you are able to rescue someone without the need to get into the water, you are always better off.
Some other safety tips:
• Never leave a young child alone or with a sibling. If you must step away from the pool area, take the child, or children, out of the pool and with you.
• Have a poolside phone so there is no need to leave the area, and know the emergency number to call.
• Teach your child to swim at a young age. Should they fall in, they might be able to help themselves by staying afloat.
• If you have a pool, make sure it is protected on all four sides from neighborhood kids. The fun of having a swimming pool makes it an inviting hazard.
• Place door latches on the pool entrance high off the ground so children can’t open them.
• Make sure the door to the pool has a self-closure that will automatically close and latch.
• If you have a pool or hot tub, you have chemicals of some type to clean and correct the pH levels of the water. Make sure they are kept out of the reach of children. Pool and Spa chemicals should be stored by themselves as some of these products are oxidizers. Oxidizers can start fires or give off toxic gases if they come in contact with oil or gasoline.
• Accidents happen. Attend a first aid and CPR class. Know what to do before it occurs.
Finally, if you would like a member of the Palatine Fire Department's dive team to stop by and offer some safety tips for your pool free of charge and of no obligation to you, just contact the Public Education Division at (847) 202-6340. Remember to swim safe.