With the Victoria Day Weekend behind us I am sure many of you, like me opened up the family pool for the season. There is nothing that says “summers coming” like the smell of soggy rotten leaves and chlorine. I started mine on Saturday morning and by 2:00 that afternoon had at least six kids swimming in the 60 degree water, which begs to question; why will they swim in 60 degree water in May but 70 degree water in August is too cold? Nevertheless I must admit that the purchase of the family pool was one of the best things we could have done as a family, the fun we have with the pool far outweighs the efforts put into maintaining it …… sometimes.
The other side of owning a pool is the responsibility that comes with it, needless to say we all know the dangers that a pool can represent but unfortunately we see drowning deaths of children every year. Backyard pools rank second behind recreational boating as the most common cause of drowning in Canada, and 50% of these drownings involve toddlers between the ages of 1 and 4. After the age of four home pool related deaths drop significantly, likely because children over the age of four begin to learn how to swim. Prevention for this type of tragedy is simple; adequate gates and supervision. A toddler should never be left unattended around a pool, not for a few moments or even around a pool with a safety gate. Toddlers are very adept at climbing, and a safety gate can often look like a challenge. Once on the pool deck a small child can slip into the water almost completely unnoticed, they may not cause a large splash and often won’t flail when in the water, they simply sink quietly. That is why vigilance and attention must never waver when small children are around a body of water. Another must for pool owners is adequate yard fencing and gates, I must commend Russell Bylaw when I put in my pool. They visited my home and insisted on me installing a self closing hinge on the gate leading to the backyard, they also returned to make sure it was done. Small children can wander from their own homes and a backyard pool with all the colourful toys that are often found around it would seem like an attractive target to a small child so it is imperative that adequate fencing is considered before having a pool installed.
Drownings are preventable and often the methods of prevention are obvious. Vigilance around pools, adequate supervision and common sense can go a long way to prevent drownings from occurring. Learning basic first-aid and CPR are also great skills to have for everyone, if you have a backyard pool and don’t know how to perform CPR that should be at the top of your “TO DO” list.
Published in the Villager newspaper May 25, 2011
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