The number one rule remains to never leave a child unattended by a body of water.
Swimming pools across central Virginia will soon open to the public. But before you take your family for a swim, it's important to know some tips to keep you and your kids safe this summer.
Drowning is often called the silent death, because pool experts say most children can't yell for help when drowning. It only takes a couple inches of water and a few seconds for it to happen, and every second counts when preventing death or disability from drowning. That's why it's so important to prepare in advance.
"That the pool is secured by layers of protection, that could be the fence, if there's an automated cover, that the cover is in place when it's not being used," said Tim Coleman, Augusta Aquatics owner.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control, or CDC, there are more than 3,500 drowning deaths each year in the U.S.
"Things you should have are simple reaching tools like a pole or something like that," Coleman said. "You want to make sure that the water is nice and clear so that everybody can see the water in the bottom of the pool and other things that you would want to have is a cell phone near the pool in case there is an accident."
Parent Danyelle Collins has six, eight, and 10-year-old children. She said she got them all swim lessons by the time they were two.
"So being around the pool and then knowing how to get in and out of the pool safely is a huge thing and also what to do in case they run out of air," she said.
But Collins still said she has fears for her children while they're in the water.
"Since my kids are near the water all summer, [my fear] is that they would be over confident and then they would forget what to do in the middle of a distressed situation and not be able to get to safety," she said.
The highest drowning rates are among children ages one to four years old. So pool owners need to make sure children can't access pools on their own.
"A 48-inch fence needs to be positioned in such a way that children can't climb into the pool, "Coleman said. "It needs to have a lockable and self-closing securable gate."
And drowning isn't the only thing you have to worry about when your kids are in the pool, dirty water can cause issues like diarrhea, rash and infection. Apartment pools, the university pools and the YMCA pools are not regulated by the health department. The health department only regulates public pools including the ones at campgrounds, resorts and hotels. In those cases, the water has to have the right chemistry, and the test results have to be posted each day for the public.
Those with private pools are supposed to check the water every two hours.
"If it was my backyard pool what I would do is check the pool before any of my friends or family got into the water," Coleman said.
But the number one rule to remember this summer -- never leave a child unattended by any body of water.
"My rule with my family is that no one is ever in the pool by themselves," Collins said. "There's always someone watching."
Thursday, December 12 2013 5:57 PM EST2013-12-12 22:57:02 GMT
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