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Childhood Wellness

4 Ways to Swim Safely This Summer

Summer means backyard pool parties and family trips to the waterpark, but for some families these fun events can turn tragic. Every year, more than 350 children younger than 15 drown in a swimming pool or spa. According to our latest data, drownings impacting children younger than five are down 17 percent since 2010. While we are making progress, there is still much work to do.

As a mother, grandmother and registered nurse, I raised my family to have a healthy respect for the water. As acting chairman of the agency that runs the Pool Safely campaign, I’m constantly reminded that fun and safety go hand-in-hand when it comes to spending time in and around the water.

As summer swim season approaches, I would like to remind all families of the simple water safety steps that can save lives: 

1. Designate a water watcher

Supervision is critical to prevent fatal and nonfatal drownings. Adults should take turns as the designated water watcher, and they shouldn’t be doing anything else — like texting or reading.

2. Teach children to swim

Learning how to swim can be a lifelong — and lifesaving — skill. If they don’t know how, parents should sign up their children for swimming lessons and learn themselves. You can find free and reduced cost lessons in local communities through the YMCA, USA Swimming Foundation or your local parks and recreation department.

3. Learn CPR

Bystander CPR is often the first line of defense in drownings. Learn this skill and then keep your certification current.

4. Ensure pools have multiple layers of protection

Residential pools should be surrounded by a non-climbable, four-sided fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate. If the house is the fourth side of the fence, equip all doors and windows leading out to the pool with an alarm. Ensure that all drain covers are federally compliant, anti-entrapment covers and teach children to stay away from them.

Ann Marie Buerkle, Acting Chairman, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, [email protected]

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