Doctor of the weekend: Public pool safety reminder

REMARK: Bluffton Community Pool has yet to announce the last day for 2022. Stay tuned.

By Sarah A. Denny, MD
Emergency Medicine, National Children’s Hospital

Everyone loves a dip in the pool, especially on those scorching summer days While swimming is a great way to play, exercise and cool down, there are some things to keep in mind. ‘spirit. More than 1,000 children die each year from drowning and many more suffer life-changing injuries. Help protect your family by using the following safety tips when swimming in public pools.

Lifeguards are stationed at pools to monitor swimming, ensure guest safety and create a safe environment. They are expert swimmers who know CPR, how to use an AED and can even give swimming lessons. The lifeguards, as attentive as they are, are not there to watch the children. While you and your family are swimming in a public pool, be sure to stay close to your child and keep an eye on them with your full attention. You should not read, talk on the phone or chat with other people. Adults should be in the pool, an arm’s length from infants, toddlers and beginning swimmers to reach them quickly. If your child is both old enough and able to swim on their own, ask them to use the “buddy system” with a friend to keep an eye on each other. Plus, designate specific check-in times to get together with your family.

Make a day at the pool fun and safe by taking the time to review pool rules with your family. Take note of the signage that says ‘no diving’ or ‘no running’. Pay attention to conditions that could be dangerous like a wet tile floor or a broken drain cover in the pool. If you see anything that could be dangerous to pool users, notify a lifeguard or pool manager immediately.

Use caution when using diving boards, water slides or other pool equipment. Make sure swimming activities match your child’s swimming abilities; sometimes swim tests are required for children to swim in the deep end. Also, remind your family what to do when a lifeguard rings: stop, watch and listen.

Time flies when you’re having fun, but long periods of time outdoors can lead to sunburn, dehydration and heat exhaustion. Plan ahead by bringing plenty of water to drink and sunscreen for your body. Once at the pool, find a shady spot to use during breaks. Be sure to check in with your family often to see how everyone is feeling.

Use a water-resistant sunscreen labeled as broad-spectrum (which protects against both UVA and UVB rays) and having an SPF of 30 or higher. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside and reapply it every two hours and after exposure to water, such as swimming or sweating.

Protective clothing can be useful when children are out for a long time. Pausing to reapply sunscreen can be difficult, especially when kids and clothes are wet, sweaty or sandy. Look for swimwear and clothing with a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) rating. Hats can protect the top of the head, the ears and the back of the neck (if the hat has a brim). Protective clothing and hats are essential for babies under six months, as sunscreen is not recommended for this age group. Be sure to apply sunscreen to uncovered areas of skin, such as your face, neck, hands, and feet.

Also, be sure to stay hydrated by drinking water and eating water-rich foods like melon, strawberries, oranges, cucumbers, lettuce, and plain yogurt.

Through a collaboration between Blanchard Valley Health System and Nationwide Children’s Hospital, content for this article was provided courtesy of Nationwide’s 700 Children’s® Blog by pediatric experts.

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