Super Sitter: Pool safety

Daytime sitting can also include time in or around a swimming pool, wading pool or spa. Children are naturally attracted to water, therefore, a "super sitter" must take precautions at all times to prevent accidents from happening. Drowning is the third leading cause of accidental death nationwide to children under five years of age. In addition, some 3,000 youngsters in the same age group are treated each year in hospital emergency rooms as a result of near-drownings; some of these children are hospitalized for life as a result of near-drowning.

Drowning is a silent killer. When a child drowns, a baby sitter won't hear a cry or even a splash. Drownings can happen very quickly.

How do children drown? How can you prevent a tragedy from happening?

  • Seconds count. In seconds, a child can leave the house and walk to the edge of the pool. In seconds, a child can drown in only a few inches of water. A child can drown in the few seconds taken to answer a telephone in the house.
  • Eyes on the child at all times is your best bet. There is no substitute for constant supervision of the child.
  • Children should be supervised and accompanied at all times, even though the parents previously instructed the children not to go near the water.
  • Make sure gates leading to the pool are closed and locked.
    Lock all doors leading from the house to the pool area.
    Locks should always be out of reach of children.
  • Don't consider a child to be water-safe even if the youngster has had swimming lessons or water-familiarity class.
  • Don't assume a pool to be safe, even one with a pool cover or a fence.
  • Don't allow children to play on the apron surrounding the pool.
  • If the pool is above-ground, remove the ladder to prevent access by anyone.
  • Learn how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on infants and young children. Contact your local chapter of the American Heart Association or American Red Cross about registering for classes.
  • If for any reason you discover the child to be missing, check the pool, wading pool, spa or hot tub first.
  • Know the telephone numbers to call for emergency medical service. In some locations you dial 911, in others a seven-digit number. As a "super sitter" you can teach the children that safe play can still be fun play!
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