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Keep safe in water

It is slowly getting warm enough that the pool or the beach will be calling. Before your family answers, take steps to keep them safe.

With the good weather and fun in the water, there is also usually is an increase in drownings.

Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for children between ages 1-4. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 10 drowning deaths per day occur in the United States. Children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates. Most of those drownings occur in home swimming pools.

Strong, compliant pool fences are important, along with strict parental care/supervision of children around pools. When it comes to pool fencing, the gate is the weakest link in restricting access by small children. Low-quality or poorly maintained gates, latches and hinges can fail, and older children often prop open gates, leaving curious toddlers vulnerable to dangerous water.

It seems as if a local child drowns in our area every summer.

ALWAYS know where children are. Never leave a child unattended in or near water in a pool, tub, lake, river, canal or ocean, even when lifeguards are present.

ALWAYS be aware of potential dangers in all environments, such as when away from home. Never leave your child in an environment with unprotected water hazards.

If a child is missing, always check the pool or spa first.

Install “isolation fencing” which completely separates the pool or spa area from the house or other structures. An isolation fence restricts unauthorized access from neighbors’ yards, other nearby buildings, and from inside the house. Isolation fencing is the preferred configuration for pool protection.

All fences must be non-climbable, meet all applicable local safety codes, and should be at least 60” tall, with vertical bars set close to one another so that a small child cannot squeeze through.

Gates should be self-closing and self-latching and accommodate a locking device.

Gates should open away from the pool and have self-closing hinges, and should never be propped open. Check and adjust your gate regularly to make sure it operates correctly.

The gate latch should be out of the reach of children.

Keep anything that can be climbed, such as chairs, tables, storage bins, playground equipment, ice chests, etc. inside the fence area.

Other tips include:

n Swim with a friend; never swim alone.

n Swim in areas supervised by lifeguards and read and obey all rules and posted signs.

n Children or inexperienced swimmers should take precautions, such as wearing a personal flotation device when around water. Boaters should have such devices available for all passengers.

n Watch out for the dangerous “toos”: Too tired, too cold, too far from safety and so on.

n If swimming in a home pool, never leave a child unobserved around water. And, when watching the child, never let your attention be diverted.

n Have a telephone nearby in case of an emergency. Also, always keep basic lifesaving equipment such as a pole, rope and personal flotation devices nearby.

n No matter where you are swimming, keep an eye on the weather. Exit the pool or, if at a lake or river, return to shore at the first sign of a storm.

Let’s make this a remarkably safe summer.