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Be safe while staying cool in the pool

Friday, June 23, 2017

Splashing around in the backyard pool or enjoying the amenities at the local community center is always refreshing on a hot summer day. But, amid all the fun, safety should always be a main priority.

“Many times, accidents that occur in swimming pools are preventable,” said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist. “The key is to observe a few easy-to-follow precautions.”

One of the easiest and most important ways to make sure everyone has a safe experience at the pool is to constantly watch children while they are in and around the water.

“Even if there’s a lifeguard present, at least one adult who knows how to swim should be in the pool while children are in the water,” Peek said. “Adults should know CPR for both children and adults, as well as understand basic life-saving techniques in case of an emergency.”

In addition to providing supervision, parents and caregivers should make sure children know how to swim, understand basic water safety and know what to do in case of an emergency.

Children also should be taught to stay away from drains, which can trap limbs, a swimsuit or hair.

At home, families should enclose pools with a fence at least 4 feet high. The fence should be an unclimbable, self-closing and self-latching gate. Installing pool and gate alarms is another simple safety step.

Larger pools should be covered and the ladder removed when not in use, while smaller pools can be emptied and stored after every use.

“Be sure to let friends, family and neighbors know if you have a pool,” Peek said. “This is important because if a child goes missing, pools and spas should be checked as soon as possible.”

Families also should equip the pool area with an easily accessible safety kit that should include a first aid kit; scissors to cut hair, clothing or a pool cover; and a flotation device.

A charged phone should be nearby in case it is necessary to alert authorities for help.

When using a community or commercial pool, families should become familiar with the locations of the nearest phones and life-saving equipment such as life rings and reaching poles.

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