Every summer we hear absolutely horrifying stories about toddlers and preschoolers drowning in backyard pools.
Two recent pool-related toddler fatalities are a sobering reminder that with the warm weather, the risks around pools in public places and backyards increases.
The BC Coroners Service strongly urges everyone to be extra-vigilant in keeping their kids safe around water.
Its statistics show that close to 30 per cent of pool-related fatalities involved preschoolaged children (ages one to four years).
All preschooler pool deaths occurred in residential pools (backyard or townhouse/ apartment complexes). All preschool pool deaths also occurred in the Metro and Fraser regions.
So far in 2012 there have been 17 swimming pool related deaths and five of these involved children between the ages of one and four.
When you have a pool in your backyard it can become so familiar that you forget that children can drown in a backyard pool as easily as in the ocean or a lake. It's easy to overlook the potential danger and it's easy for parents to let down their guard.
It is essential that a childproof fence enclose all pools, even the above-ground shallower versions. They need to be totally enclosed by fencing the kids can't climb and the latch to open the gate needs to be on top, too high for a young child to reach.
Too often the pool is accessible through a door to the backyard and a curious or bored toddler simply wanders outside and falls in the water. You need to make that impossible.
It's a good idea to have a first aid kit and a rescue pole by poolside whenever anyone is in the water.
Having a phone poolside is also helpful when you receive a call. When there are kids in the water you shouldn't go inside to answer the phone. When it's right there you can take the call while supervising the young swimmers.
Pool play needs to be supervised. No one should swim alone, and when kids are in the water an adult should always be at hand.
If you have a pool it's also a good idea to register your children in swimming classes from a young age.
I remember one parent with a pool who insisted that every child who went into her pool needed to have first learned how to swim. She went so far as to arrange for swimming lessons in her pool.
Develop a set of rules and be strict about them. Some obvious ones would be: no pushing or holding kids underwater, no peeing in the pool and if you are a visiting child and can't touch bottom you need an adult with you.
Make sure you go over the rules with the kids before they get in the pool. If they are returning friends, just have them tell you the rules to remind them of the expectations.
A backyard pool can be a magnet for all the kids on the block when the weather's hot.
Before any kids go for a swim make sure they have permission from their parents.
It's also a good idea to insist that all children bring their own towels (thus ensuring that they go home to tell their parents and reducing your laundry pile).
Summer is a lovely time for water play. It's certainly refreshing and a great way to beat the heat.
A pool can be a wonderful addition to picnics and barbecues in the backyard. It's also great exercise, particularly on days when it's too hot to exercise on land. Just make sure your kids are safe.
. Tri-Cities resident Kathy Lynn is a professional speaker and author of Who's In Charge Anyway? and But Nobody Told Me I'd Ever Have to Leave Home. If you want to read more, sign up for Kathy Lynn's informational newsletter by visiting the website at www.parentingtoday.ca.
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