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Girl jumping into swiming pool

Jump In, Be Safe

Water Rules That Could Save Your Child’s Life.

My daughter started asking in March when our local pool would be open. Like most kids, she’s ready to jump in the water as soon as she gets a chance. But parents need to help keep their kids safe, even if they are already Missy-Franklins-in-the-making. What better time than May (Water Safety Month and the beginning of swimming season) to review water safety tips? Whether you are at the pool, lake, or in the tub, don’t let your kids jump in without reviewing these important guidelines.

Public Pool Safety

For many families in Colorado, summertime means long lazy days at the pool. Don’t let yourself get too distracted by other people at the pool, a book, or your phone. Remember to:

Open Water Precautions

If you’re headed out to Colorado’s lakes, rivers, and streams, remember that “open bodies of water present the additional dangers of currents, undertows, and other hazards hidden under the surface,” says Dwayne Smith of Safe Kids Colorado. “Parents and caregivers should stay within arm’s reach of children in the open water.” To stay safe, remember to:

Home Pool and Spa Safety

Home pools and spas are a wonderful convenience, but they are also high-risk for kids. “Most children who drown in swimming pools were last seen in the home, had been missing from sight for less than five minutes, and were in the care of one or both parents at the time of the drowning,” says Smith. “Parents and caregivers must be educated about the risks of drowning and the short amount of time it can take to lose a child.” Remember to:

Drowning Awareness

Many people assume they will hear a loud commotion as a warning that there’s trouble in the water, but a drowning in progress is often silent. A person struggling in the water may only be able to remain at the surface for 20 to 60 seconds, if at all.

“Drowning doesn’t usually look like what you see in the movies or on television. A drowning victim who is struggling to remain at the surface of the water cannot call out for help because their efforts are focused on getting a breath,” says Smith. To help increase survival for a drowning person:

Other Water Warnings

Children can drown in a variety of other locations, including large buckets, aqueducts, drainage canals, ditches, bathtubs, and even toilets. Keep a close eye on children whenever they are near any water.

“While swimming can be a fun recreational activity, it is important to keep safety in mind,” says Gretchen Burdekin, aquatics program specialist at the American Red Cross. “Many people who are involved in aquatic emergencies never intended to swim in the first place.”

Chera Prideaux is a freelance writer who lives in Castle Rock.

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