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Swim Safely this Summer!

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With summer in full swing, Central Texas children are flocking to area swimming pools. Safe Kids Austin wants to remind parents to be extra vigilant around pools and open water as child drownings increase 89 percent in the summer months over the rest of the year.

While there are few better ways to get exercise in the summer heat than splishing and splashing in some cool water, a parent does have to be cautious when taking their children to the pool.

Consider these facts concerning drowning from SAFE KIDS USA:

  • When a child is submerged two minutes in water, he/she loses consciousness.
  • Irreversible brain damage sets in after four to six minutes of water submersion.
  • Most children die if they are found after 10 minutes in the water.

To help keep your kids safe this pool season, Safe Kids USA recommends these precautions:

  • If you have a pool or spa or if your child visits a home with a pool or spa, it should be surrounded on all four sides by a fence at least five-feet high with gates that close and latch automatically. Studies estimate that this type of isolation fencing could prevent 50 percent to 90 percent of child drownings in residential pools.
  • A pool or spa should be equipped with an anti-entrapment drain cover and a safety vacuum release system to prevent children from being caught in the suction of the drain. The powerful suction forces can trap a child underwater or cause internal injuries.
  • Don't leave toys in or near the pool where they could attract unsupervised kids. For extra protection, consider a pool alarm and alarms on the doors, windows and gates leading to the pool.
  • Enroll your kids in swimming lessons around age four, but don't assume swimming lessons make your child drown-proof. There is no substitute for active supervision.
  • Remember: inflatable swimming toys such as water wings and noodles are not flotation devices and do not prevent drowning.
  • Learn infant and child CPR. In less than two hours, you can learn effective interventions that can give a fighting chance to a child whose breathing and heartbeat have stopped. Contact your local hospital or Red Cross affiliate for information about local CPR classes.
  • Keep rescue equipment, a phone and emergency numbers by the pool.
  • These guidelines apply to inflatable and portable pools, not just in-ground pools. A child can drown in just an inch of water. Kiddie pools should be emptied and stored out of reach when not in use.

Here are some links with information about City of Austin swimming lessons and the 2009 pools schedule:

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Good Health for Kids is produced by Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas.