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Add a splash of safety for the summer
With the weather warming up, some Yumans are already daring to dip their toes in swimming pools and the Colorado River.
But with playtime comes the responsibility to make sure everyone has a fun time and a safe time - especially for children.
Whether it's your own backyard pool, a neighbor's pool or any other body of water, safety experts say there are ways to make sure your child is safe.
First, if it's your own pool, put up a fence, says Kathleen Reilly, public affairs specialist with the Consumer Product Safety Commission. That's part of Arizona law, so homeowners should already have a fence in place.
But one tip, said Ryan Butcher, coordinator with the Safe Kids Yuma County, is positioning the fence a certain way. Butcher said if the fourth side is up against the house, that way, the child only has access to a limited area of the backyard. It's also smart to have a childproof lock on the gate, he said.
Alarms on doors leading out to the backyard, as well as an alarm on the gate, are also good ideas, Butcher said.
"It doesn't mean kids can't get in there. They seem to get into places they're not supposed to."
He added that it's also not an excuse to not keep an eye on the child. "It only takes a couple seconds for a child to drown."
Joe Cox, recreation supervisor for the city of Yuma, agrees.
"Never leave a child unattended," Cox said.
It's also a good idea to remove any toys or anything from the pool that could attract a child, Cox said.
"Even though there's nobody in the pool, they're going to jump in there and get that thing," he said.
"It's really important to take every measure you can," Butcher said.
Cox said it's also good to have an item such as a ring buoy or a shepherd's hook nearby to help if someone does fall in the pool.
And it's always a good idea to have a cell phone outside, he said. That way someone doesn't have to go inside to make an important call if something should happen.
Another important tip, Butcher said, is for a child to start swimming lessons around age 4.
"That doesn't mean you can't expose your child before that," Butcher said. Learning to do simple things such as treading water, staying afloat and safety tips can be very useful.
Cox said parents and caregivers can also get CPR-certified. He said it would never hurt anyone to have those skills, stressing that people never know when they'll need to help someone.
"CPR is a great asset for anybody to have," he said.
SAFETY FACTS, TIPS
• Each year, more than 830 children ages 14 and under die as a result of unintentional drowning.
• Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional death among children ages 1 to 4 years and children 10 to 14 years. For infants less than 1 year, drowning is the third leading cause of death.
• Home swimming pools are the most common site for a drowning to occur for a child between the ages 1 to 4 years.
• In the summer, between May and August, drowning deaths among children increase 89 percent over the rest of the year.
• Four-sided isolation fencing around home pools could prevent 50-90 percent of childhood drownings and near-drownings. When used properly, door alarms, pool alarms and automatic pool covers add an extra layer of protection.
• Always supervise children in and around water. Never allow them to be near water alone.
• Install multiple drains in all pools, spas, whirlpools and hot tubs. This minimizes the suction of any one drain, reducing risk of death or injury.
Stephanie A. Wilken can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6857.