Baby clutching edge of kidde pool
Summer 2020 is already one for the books. Not necessarily a book we’d want to read, but nonetheless, it’s already turning out to be a memorable one in so many ways. Family vacations canceled. Day camps canceled. Sleep away camps canceled. Many community and public pools partially or completely closed. And this week? Forget about the beaches.
As we head in to the July 4th holiday weekend, many of the beaches up and down the coasts of California, Texas and Florida are closed. As many folks continue to admonish, Covid-19 does not take a vacation. And as cases surge in many states, including Florida, Texas, and California, the beach, sun, and surf capitals of the country, families have found new means of keeping some summer fun going, in the comfort of their own backyard, front yard, rooftop, or balcony.
In-home pools, be they above-ground, in-ground, or inflatable, have seen their own surge (a purchasing surge, that is) in recent weeks. These purchases can range from a blow-up kiddie pool for under $30 to a more substantial investment of an in-ground pool to the tune of $50,000 and up. For now, a “staycation” is the way to go, and pools of any size can add a feeling of R&R. Even adults without kids are buying kiddie pools for themselves, to create a spa-like setting where one can sip a tropical beverage at the end of a hard day or week.
Woman relaxing next to kidde pool
Families with young children are relishing in their newly purchased pool of any size. The kids can have some semblance of summer fun, without screens, out in the sunshine.
Many parents can take a break when their kids are out splashing. It’s just a few inches of water, so it’s not like a real swimming pool where they can drown. That whole nonsense about kids drowning in just a few inches of water is a myth. Right?
Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death in children ages one to 15 years in the U.S., and the highest risk group is boys under age five. Over half of these fatalities occur in home pools.
When we think of pool risks, we think of the big pools, complete with deep-ends, diving boards, and swim parties. But over 10% of pool-related deaths in young children occur in kiddie pools. These include inflatables, plastic wading pools, and larger above-ground pools. The average depth of water in which these kids die is 18 inches. That’s right: the average childhood drowning death occurs in one and half feet of water. And, yes, kids have drowned in as little as 2 inches of water.
A 2011 study in the journal Pediatrics documented that shallow pool drownings are actually frighteningly frequent causes of infant and toddler deaths. Besides showing the obvious– that these drownings occur in young children, primarily in the summer months, and primarily at home, the authors also shed some very important light on these horrific scenes. It turns out that over half of these events take place when a child is either unsupervised, or has had a lapse in supervision. A lapse can be anything from the adult falling asleep, going in to the house to answer the telephone, doing chores, or chatting with a friend. Another startling fact: fewer than 20% of adults instituted CPR on the child prior to arrival of an ambulance.
The study authors found that, while prevention is the number one way to save our kids from drowning, there is no one sure fire method of prevention. The authors suggest that we consider ‘layers’ of prevention, since no singular method is fool-proof, not even eagle-eye supervision. Some layers include:
-All pools, even the above-ground ones, need pool fencing.
-Pool fencing should be at least four feet high, non-climbable, and have no opening under the fence.
-Pool gates should be self-closing and self-latching.
-Above-ground pool ladders should either be removed when the pool is not in use, or locked.
-Toys should be kept out of pools when not in use.
-Kiddie/wading pools should be emptied when not in use.
-CPR training is a plus, with refresher courses before swimming season for all adults.
-Emergency telephone numbers, CPR instructions, life-preservers, and life jackets should be available near pools.
-Life preservers are not to be used as pool toys.
-A telephone should be brought outside when children are swimming, in case emergency personnel need to be called. A land-line is better than a cell phone, making it easier for emergency personnel to track your location.
-Indoor high locks should be installed on doors, so that children can not go outside without an adult opening the door.
-Door alarms can alert an adult that someone, kid or adult, has gone outside.
Toddle looking through crack in fence around swimming pool
With beach closures extending along many parts of the east and west coast due to recent spikes in coronavirus cases, with Texas chiming in to close beaches as well, the in-home pool surge will likely continue, perhaps with its own additional spike this holiday weekend.
We have enough to worry about with rising cases of Covid-19. Keeping an eye on kids, even if they’re splashing around in just a few inches of water, can save lives, over July 4th weekend and throughout the summer. Let’s not add an uptick in drowning accidents to the infamous summer of 2020.