To many children, one of the best remedies for the hot summer sun is a dip in the local pool. But the Iowa Department of Public Health wishes to remind parents that even in pools manned by trained lifeguards, dangers remain.
“Parents or caregivers need to be extremely aware of where children are at all times,” said Debbie Cooper, an environmental specialist senior with the IDPH. “Someone needs to be continually watching kids around water.”
The IDPH, in conjunction with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), designated June 28 as “Pool Safety Day” to encourage both children and parents to be wary of aquatic hazards.
Cooper said that a CSPC National Snapshot study reports that 48 drownings have occurred in America’s pools and spas since Labor Day. In addition, 75 near-drownings were reported.
“In my opinion, if one child dies, that’s one too many,” Cooper said. “Or one person even. It shouldn’t happen at all.”
Vigilance is the most important way to keep kids safe around water, according to Cooper. The child’s experience with water or proximity to a lifeguard should not dissaude the caregiver from supervising swimming.
“Just because a child knows how to swim, that’s not a guarantee that a drowning won’t occur,” Cooper said.
Kaeleen Jenkins, aquatic director with the Clinton YWCA agrees.
“It’s really nice to have an extra set of eyes, especially if the child is very young,” Jenkins said.
The sun can be an issue when swimming outdoors. Injuries like sunburns are common during summer months, and overexposure to the sun can lead to skin cancers like melanoma. Jenkins suggests wearing waterproof sunscreen and hats whenever possible.
Both Jenkins and Cooper recommends that parents or caregivers get trained in lifesaving techniques.
“I wonder how many parents are trained in CPR,” Cooper said. “I wonder how many parents or caregivers know how to swim? To me, those things are really important.”
The Red Cross offers water safety instructor courses, and Jenkins teaches CPR, first aid and other lifesaving techniques through the YWCA.
According to the IDPH, “You never know which measure will save a life — until it does.”