Parents Need to Be Aware of Swimming Dangers

Parents Need to Be Aware of Swimming Dangers

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Tonya Papanikolas Reporting More drownings in Utah occur in the month of July than any other time of the year. Yesterday an eight-year-old girl drowned in a neighbor's pool in Salt Lake. Safety officials want to get parents thinking about how they can prevent this type of tragedy.

Whether you're at a residential pool or a public one, drowning can be a real threat. At public pools there's usually a lot of people around, and lifeguards, but usually drowning children will not scream for help or thrash their arms around in the water. So parents need to be on alert.

Kids look forward to a fun day at the pool, but swimming and playing in the water can become dangerous if families don't think about safety first.

Cyndi Bemis, Utah Dept. of Health: "I think people are surprised when we tell them that drowning is the second leading injury cause of death in children."

Between 2000 and 2002, 39 people drowned in Utah. The majority, 22 of the them, were under five-years old.

Cyndi Bemis: "It just takes a few seconds for a child's head to go under the water, two minutes for them to become unconscious."

In 21 of the drowning cases someone was supervising at the time of the accident, whether it was a parent, sibling, relative or friend. But often these people are distracted.

Cyndi Bemis: "It has to be constant watching. That means no phone calls, no leaving to get a soda or something like that."

The American Red Cross recommends an adult being within arm's reach of a child and having a phone at the pool, for emergencies and practical reasons.

Patti O'Connor, American Red Cross: "You don't want to have to walk in the house to answer the phone, because you don't want to leave kids alone at all, any time."

They also say parents shouldn't depend on floating devices for safety.

Patti O'Connor: "Inflatable toys are just that - they're toys. Don't rely on that to be life-saving devices."

Fences can keep wandering kids out of private pools, and pool covers are another important investment.

Donald Ludlow, Dolphin Pools & Spas: "I think that's the best safety device you can buy."

The owner of Dolphin Pools says drain covers are also a good idea, so you don't get sucked in if you lay on a drain.

Donald Ludlow, Dolphin Pools and Spas: "It helps to prevent people from being trapped if they swim across it, from suction to the pump."

It's really important for an adult to be supervising. Other kids may think a child is playing a game when they don't come up from the water. Also, it's not a good idea for kids to have breath-holding competitions; they can get too much oxygen and pass out in the water.

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