Make your pool a safe zone

By Dr. Ruchi Kaushik
General Pediatrics

Summer is upon us, and with the heat comes the desire to jump in the pool!  For parents, with this pool plunge comes the importance of swimming safety.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists drowning as the second-leading cause of injury-related death in children ages 1 to 14 years.  So, before diving into summer, be sure to review a few water safety tips with your “water babies.”

If you have a pool or spa, install a four-sided fence that is completely separated from the house and play area of the yard.  The fence should be at least four feet high and should have self-closing and self-latching gates.  Never prop the gate open.  Do not leave furniture near the fence that would allow your child to climb over it.

  • Always swim with a buddy; this includes adults. When your children are swimming, make sure an adult (either yourself or someone you trust) is watching.  Do not take your eyes off them.
  • Enroll your child in American Red Cross-approved swimming lessons. But, remember, this does not obviate the need for careful supervision and pool fences.
  • If your child is not a strong swimmer, use a life jacket. Do not use pool toys, noodles, or inner tubes as substitutes.
  • Advise your children to walk, and not run, around pool areas or between rides at water parks.
  • Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). You may save a child’s life before paramedics arrive.
  • Allow at least two hours for your child to digest a meal before jumping in the pool. Do not let your child eat or chew gum while swimming—he/she may choke.
  • Apply sunscreen before playing in the sun and reapply every time they come out of the pool, as it washes off easily. For infants and toddlers, use a sunscreen with at least SPF 50, and for older children at least SPF 25.

But, most of all, be sure to have a boat-load of fun!  For more information, visit the CDC (www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/water-safety) or contact your pediatrician.

Author: Ruchi Kaushik, MD

Dr. Kaushik received her medical degree at Dayanand Medical College and Hospital in Ludhiana, India, and completed her internship and residency in pediatrics at the Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo. She is board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and currently provides primary care to children with medical complexity.

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