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Published: Friday, 5/18/2012 - Updated: 3 years ago

Create a safer retreat for summer fun

ARA – Swimming is the most popular summer activity and if you have a pool or spa, your backyard just may be this summer's most popular retreat for friends, neighbors and all the children that come with them. Adding as many water safety steps as possible is the best way to assure a safer and fun experience this summer.

Drowning accidents happen very, very quickly. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in most cases, the children involved were out of their parents' sight for less than five minutes. The good news: Drowning can be prevented. Barriers help buy those few minutes needed to re-establish direct contact when it has been briefly lost. It's vital to have layers of protection in place between your home and pool to buy the time to re-establish contact after a momentary distraction, such as answering the phone or door, texting or other routine activities.

Numerous studies have shown an isolation fence that separates the home from the pool can prevent 50 to 90 percent of all toddler drownings. Only an isolation fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate in proper working order will prevent children from getting into the water without your knowledge. For above-ground pools, a fence and gate surrounding the steps or ladder can prevent toddler access.

Pool gates should be inspected frequently and adjusted for latch alignment and hinge tension to make sure they self-close and self-latch every time.

Parents can get their children involved in pool safety education and help them become a Safer Kid, through the Safer 3 program developed by the Swim for Life Foundation. The Safer 3 is a comprehensive initiative to dramatically reduce drowning incidences and create safer water.

Additional tips to stay pool-safe this summer:

• Never leave children alone in or near the pool or spa, even for a moment.

• If a child is missing, look for them first in the pool or spa.

• Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments.

• National Drowning Prevention Alliance (www.NDPA.org) recommends a "water watcher" be designated for safety when children are in the pool, to maintain eye-to-eye contact at all times.

• Toys or floating chlorine dispensers that look like toys should never be left in the pool area.

• Be aware of anything a child could use to climb up on and over a pool fence.

• Keep rescue equipment, such as a shepherd's hook, near the pool.

• If your child is invited to a friend's pool don't expect the other parent to be as cautious as you may be. Offer to go with them to be another set of eyes on the pool.

• Brush up on your own swimming skills.

• Learn CPR. You can sign up for CPR classes at The Red Cross or your local YMCA.

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