Careful at the pool

Published 9:27 pm Wednesday, June 5, 2013

With temperatures climbing and most Suffolk schools nearing the end of the school year, children and adults will be headed to area pools and beaches, looking for the promise of cool water and a bit of splish-splashy fun. But an incident at a North Suffolk community pool last week serves as a stark warning about the dangers that can lurk, especially for children, in an innocent afternoon swim.

A 5-year-old boy swimming in the Kempton Park pool last Wednesday was rescued by a lifeguard who saw the child was in the deep end and not moving. The boy was unresponsive when the lifeguard pulled him from the water, and the lifeguard and a bystander performed CPR and brought him back to consciousness. He was taken to the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, where he was treated and released.

It was a close call for the boy, and his family must surely feel an incredible debt of gratitude to the two people who saved his life. Sadly, many such incidents do not turn out so well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there were an average of 3,533 unintentional drownings a year between 2005 and 2009, not including boating accidents. About one in five people who drown are children 14 and under. And for every child who loses his life to drowning, there are five more who receive emergency medical treatment for nonfatal submersion injuries.


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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission offers some good advice to help ensure that a day at the pool doesn’t end in tragedy:

  • Teach children to float or swim as soon as possible.
  • Always provide competent adult supervision when the pool is in use.
  • Even adults should never swim alone.
  • Caution children against showing off and playing rough and explain the dangers of running and diving recklessly.
  • Never push others into the pool.
  • When using water slides, always go feet first.
  • Before diving or sliding, check to be sure that other swimmers are out of the way.
  • Keep rescue devices and first aid supplies near the pool. A floating shepherd’s crook is useful.
  • Teach children what to do in case of emergency. An alarm bell that could summon help would be a good idea.
  • Keep electrical appliances such as radios out of the pool area because of the hazard of electrical shock.
  • Never swim after drinking alcoholic beverages, eating or taking medications.

Nothing says “summer” more than a day at the pool. Take care this year to make sure those pool days do not turn into tragic days.