Making Your Swimming Pool Safe For Kids

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, August 10, 2006

Child safety advocate Sonja Atkins’ two young children are swimming with three friends at their grandfather’s Sacramento pool, unconcerned about anything but having fun in the sun.  
But Grand dad Gus Atkins has learned a little about pool safety from his daughter and he’s put it to use.  Not only are there three adults supervising the children, he’s got a steel fence with a self-locking gate surrounding his pool.  And that’s not all – there’s an alarm on the backyard door.

You can set it so that if you open any of these outside doors, it will go off, so if the kids open the door, it’ll go off and let you know that somebody’s in the back yard…they might be headed for the pool.
Sonja Atkins is with the Greater Sacramento Safe Kids Coalition. She says that alarm is a crucial second layer of protection:
Most of the drownings actually happen when a parent thinks a child is inside, safely playing or sleeping, and they happen to sneak out of the back and get into the pool.
But Christian Pebbles with the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District, warns that people can put too much trust in gadgets:
You know we can set up all the safety barriers that is provided to us.  Gates and alarms and everything.  But if you’re not watching your child, that’s when the accident takes place. And statistics show for every drowning, we have two to three near drownings.
Experts say many people don’t realize that disaster can happen swiftly and silently.  Dana Long is with the UC Davis Trauma Prevention Program. She says parents must always keep their children in view.
Children drown without a sound.  They don’t make a lot of splashing noises, nor can they scream for help when they’re in a stressful situation like a near drowning.  A lot of people think they’ll be able to hear such an incident going on, but in reality, you don’t hear anything.
Safety officials are also urging adults to learn cardio pulmonary resuscitation.  Sac Metro fire officials say they’ve seen too many cases where children might have lived had someone at the pool known CPR.   They say, so far this summer, there’ve been nearly 30 drownings involving both children and adults. Fire officials fear the Sacramento region may be on its way to a record season.