Your Guide to a Safer Pool Party

Parents (USA) - - Kids-News + Ideas - IN­STALL A PROPER FENCE COVER IT UP SET UP AN ALARM HAVE THE PROPER EQUIP­MENT AS­SIGN A “WA­TER WATCHER” DON’T OVER­LOOK THE KID­DIE POOL

In an ef­fort to de­crease drown­ings in Cal­i­for­nia, a lead­ing cause of death there for chil­dren ages 1 to 4, the state re­cently passed a law that re­quires own­ers of newly con­structed or re­mod­eled pools and spas to in­clude spe­cific safety fea­tures. Even if you don’t live in the Golden State, you can make your own back­yard pool just as safe for swim­mers with these tips.

It should com­pletely sur­round all four sides and sep­a­rate the pool from your home, says Emily Sa­muel, se­nior pro­gram man­ager of Safe Kids World­wide. In order to keep cu­ri­ous kids out, a fence needs to be at least 4 feet high with a self-clos­ing and self-latch­ing gate. When­ever you’re not us­ing the pool, close it off with a prop­erly fit­ted cover. It should go over the en­tire sur­face area of the pool and not al­low any wa­ter to col­lect on top. It’s like a home-alert sys­tem but for the back­yard. While it isn’t manda­tory, the new Cal­i­for­nia law rec­om­mends that res­i­dents choose be­tween two types: one that’s placed on the door or win­dow that leads from the house to the pool or one that goes di­rectly in the wa­ter. Both should make a con­tin­u­ous au­di­ble sound if the door is opened or left ajar or if some­one en­ters the pool. Gi­ant swan float­ies, noo­dles, and in­flat­able rafts are lots of fun, but they shouldn’t take the place of per­sonal flota­tion de­vices (PFDS), which are de­signed to keep kids afloat in wa­ter. Al­ways have a hook or a Pfd—like a life jacket, a life pre­server, or a ring buoy—in an ac­ces­si­ble spot near the pool. If some­one is ever in distress, reach out to him with the pre­server—don’t get in the wa­ter—to safely pull him to the side. (Con­sider tak­ing a wa­ter-safety skills and CPR class one week­end to brush up on proper re­trieval strate­gies.) If sev­eral adults are at the pool, des­ig­nate 15-minute shifts for each per­son to keep their full at­ten­tion on the kids who are in or around the wa­ter. Young chil­dren should be an arm’s reach away from an adult at all times (you might have to get in!), while older kids should be re­minded to never swim with­out a buddy just in case one of them needs to call for help. It might be small, but you should give it the same care and at­ten­tion as a big pool. Empty it as soon as your child is done splash­ing around, and store it up­side down so it doesn’t col­lect wa­ter.

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