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CPR & Pool Safety: It's Not Just For Lifeguards

Summer season is the fun season, but for those of us who spend our lives training others in First Aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), this is the season to remain Alert. Unlike other traumatic and life-

threatening happenings – a heart attack that stirs the crowd to action or a car accident that draws attention from passing drivers – drowning incidents are often silent and unexpected.

A tired child can slip down into the water unnoticed, a toddler can silently slip over the edge of the pool, an experienced lap swimmer can suddenly blackout in shallow water and go completely unnoticed by others until it’s too late. For these reasons, it’s imperative that those who spend time around pools and bodies of water remain alert and know what to do if and when a pool safety incident occurs.

While certified lifeguards and swim teachers are required to learn CPR, they aren’t the only ones who should be educated in pool safety. The large majority of America’s pools – both public and private – are not supervised by lifeguards. This means the onus is on you and other supervising adults and teens to learn CPR and to uphold recommended water and pool safety guidelines.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) sites non-boat related drowning as the fifth-leading cause of unintentional death in the United States – and those statistics are higher for young children. On average, there are about 10 drowning deaths per day in this country, and the sweeping majority of them occur at unguarded sites (locations where there is no lifeguard on duty).

The CDC also reminds us that, “seconds count,” when it comes to saving a life, which is why it’s so important to learn CPR. Immediate, hands-on CPR performed by bystanders until EMTs or other emergency personnel arrive to the scene can make all the difference when it comes to preventing an unintentional death by drowning.

The shallow end is as deadly as the deep end

One of the biggest misconceptions about bodies of water and drowning is that shallow water is safe and deeper water is more dangerous. This is simply not true.

The International Life Saving Federation (ILSF) states that as many as 25% of all drowning-related deaths occur in water that is 3-feet deep or less, and 40% of drowning incidents occur within 6-feet of the side or edge of the pool or body of water. Furthermore, small children have been known to drown in just inches of water in bath tubs or small wading pools.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking shallow water isn’t dangerous. Never leave children or individuals who can’t swim unattended – no matter how shallow the water.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Never play breath-holding games as these can lead to shallow water blackouts

  • Always answer the body’s urge to breathe, even if it means taking an unwarranted break from play or your swim/water workout

  • Never dive in water less than 6-feet deep as you risk a spinal or head injury, as well as drowning

Children can drown in matter of one or two minutes

Babies and toddlers, 0- to 4-years of age, are the most likely to drown, and the large majority drown in backyard swimming pools. Unfortunately, most of the adults or older siblings supervising these children share the same story, “I only went inside for a minute…”

Never ever leave children unattended, even if it’s just to run inside to grab a towel, use the bathroom, or get something to drink. Have children get out with you and bring them inside, after which they can happily return to the water. They may not be happy about an involuntary break from their fun activity, but keeping them safe is well-worth their fleeting disappointment

Have a pool at home?

A few simple additions to the pool area can make all the difference in creating a safe and incident-free environment:

  • Install a four-sided barrier or fence around the pool, with self-closing and self-latching gates

  • Consider installing a simple alarm system on the pool enclosure

  • Have first-aid equipment easily available around the pool area

  • Post visible signs demonstrating basic CPR and first-aid instructions

  • Never let children use pool without adult supervision

  • Enforce strict rules regarding running and horseplay around the pool area

  • Always drain and overturn wading pools that aren’t in use

Have a group of friends, families or a neighborhood safety group interested in taking a CPR class? Contact Live and Learn CPR and let us know. We’ll keep you abreast of upcoming classes, and we can also bring our certified courses directly to you.

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