It may not officially be here yet, but the summer heat is in full swing with day 12 of temperatures in the 90s. So parents are looking for ways to help their children to beat the heat, and that includes taking a dip in the pool.
While swimming is always fun, it also poses a number of dangers.
Just this week, an eight-year-old girl in unincorporated Gwinnett County got her arm stuck in a pool’s vacuum line. The Gwinnett County Fire Department had to come to her rescue.
“Our responding personnel did a really good job. They jumped into the pool because it was in the six foot deep section, so she couldn’t really stand there,” said Gwinnett County Fire Lt. Eric Eberly. Crews ended up needing to use jackhammers to free the girl.
Safety is Christine Kinsella’s top priority. She is the Aquatics Coordinator for Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation. “We have lifeguards and we make sure they rotate every 15 minutes to keep them fresh and for their position.” One of her responsibilities is to make sure those lifeguards are up to date with training and ready for whatever may happen. “We do service training every other week at all of our facilities as well as drills during the normal day to keep them on their toes.”
Mychal Hines has been a lifeguard at the Aquatic Center at for two years now. His top pool safety tip is ‘don’t run.’ “If you run, you can scrape yourself and you’ll also cause another hazard, which can cause other people to have to come out the pool.” Hines also says you should listen to the old adage of waiting 30 minutes after eating to get back into the pool. Not just because of the fear of getting a leg cramp, but because you may actually get sick and vomit. And if that happens, county guidelines say the pool may have to close for up to 24 hours for clean up.
Lt. Eberly says homeowners need to make sure their pool is safe as well. He recommends private pool owners have a around their pool, and make sure it’s locked at all times. The federal government’s Pool Safely Campaign also reminds parents to always have a phone nearby and keep kids away from pool drains, pipes and other openings.
Eberly also says everyone playing near a pool should know how to swim. Gwinnett County offers swimming lessons year round at all of their aquatic centers. “We start at six months and go all the way up to adult. It’s never to old or to early to learn how to swim,” said Kinsella.
But the most important safety tip Eberly, Kinsella and Hines all stress is the importance of parental supervision— whether at a public pool or the one in your own back yard. “Never take your eyes off your children,” said Kinsella. “If you’re having a home pool party, designate one parent to wear the lifeguard tag. And that parent is responsible for watching all the children in the pool for ten minutes, and then they switch off with another parent and that parent is responsible for watching the children for that ten minutes. That way someone is always designated to watch the pool. Because it seems like, at a party per se, everybody thinks that somebody else is watching, and it only takes a second for an accident to happen.”
For more pool safety tips, check out PoolSafely.gov's list.