Millions of us enjoy warm weather every year by swimming in our backyard pools and relaxing in hot tubs. Tragically though, over 600 young children drown in backyard swimming pools each year in South Africa. With summer well on its way, it is important to make sure your swimming pool is safe.
Here are some safety tips to help prevent incidents at home:
- Secure your pool with appropriate barriers. Completely surround your pool with a 1.2 m high fence or barrier with a self-closing, self-latching gate. Place a safety cover on the pool or hot tub when not in use and remove any ladders or steps used for access. Consider installing a pool alarm that goes off if anyone enters the pool.
- Keep children under active supervision at all times. Stay in arm’s reach of young kids. Designate a responsible person to watch the water when people are in the pool—never allow anyone to swim alone. Have young or inexperienced swimmers wear swimming aids.
- Ensure everyone in the home knows how to swim well by enrolling them in age-appropriate water orientation and learn-to-swim course.
- Keep your pool or hot tub water clean and clear. Maintain proper chemical levels, circulation and filtration. Regularly test and adjust the chemical levels to minimize the risk of earaches, rashes or more serious diseases.
- Establish and enforce rules and safe behaviours, such as “no diving,” “stay away from drain covers,” “swim with a buddy” and “walk please.”
- Ensure everyone in the home knows how to respond to aquatic emergencies by having appropriate safety equipment and taking water safety, first aid and CPR courses from Life Med Ambulance Service’s Training Academy.
This article is meant to be used as a guideline. It is important for parents and caretakers to learn CPR and how to do it correctly.
Below are some tips on what to do if you find your child drowning.
What to do if you find your child drowning in your swimming pool:
- Take the Child Out of the Water
- Get Help, if You Are Not Alone
Starting CPR immediately is the most important thing you can do to prevent a child from dying.
- If you are alone, follow the steps below before stopping to call 0861 086 911.
- If you are not alone, while you start the steps below, ask someone to call 0861 086 911.
- Check for Breathing and Responsiveness
- See whether the child is breathing. Place your ear near the child’s mouth and nose. Do you feel air on your cheek? Is the child’s chest moving? (Gasping is not breathing.) While checking for breathing, you can also call the child’s name to see if the child responds.
- If the Child Is Not Breathing, Start Rescue Breathing
You do not need to remove water from the child’s throat to start CPR.
- Carefully place the child on his or her back on a firm surface.
- If you suspect a neck or head injury, roll the child over by moving the entire body (head, neck, spine, and hips) together, keeping them all aligned.
- Tilt the child’s head back and lift the chin. If you suspect a neck injury, do not tilt the head, just open the jaw. For a baby, be careful not to tilt the head back too far.
- With an infant, place your mouth over the baby’s nose and mouth to form a tight seal.
- With an older child, pinch the nose closed and put your mouth over the child’s mouth, forming a tight seal.
- Blow into the child’s mouth for 1 second. The child’s chest should rise when you do this.
- Repeat the breath a second time.
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