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May is national drowning awareness month

By Marcelle Dibrell

May is National Drowning Prevention Awareness month - a good time to think about the inherent dangers associated with water, and how we can prevent senseless drownings.

That is because drowning is the leading cause of death among children ages 1-4, with the exception of birth defects. And for every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency care for nonfatal submersion injuries. And for children younger than 5, 87% of drowning fatalities happen in home pools or hot tubs, and most of those take place in pools owned by family, friends or relatives.

May has been named National Drowning Prevention Month in an effort to decrease these tragic numbers.

Experts say the answer is to provide layers of protection surrounding water. And the very first layer is vigilant supervision, because no one is drown-proof. Unfortunately, many drowning incidents have occurred when children are solely engaged in swimming or other water play, and adults know children are in the water and those adults are nearby. This April, a brother and sister, ages 7 and 9, whom their father described as proficient swimmers and divers, drowned and were discovered at the bottom of a pool when the adults left the pool area for just a moment.

That’s why active supervision is the first and most important layer of protection needed to prevent drowning accidents. Even when lifeguards are present, it is essential that children are never left unattended.

Pool barriers are a second layer of protection that must always be present. That means fences, gates, locked house doors and windows and pool safety covers.

Bear in mind that barriers are not child proof, but they do provide layers of protection for a child when there is a lapse in adult supervision. So, while active adult supervision and pool barriers are the two key layers of protection against child drowning that must always be present, it is important to be aware that not even the most diligent parent or caregiver can actively supervise a child 24/7. That is why it is essential to remember that if a child goes missing for even the briefest moment, always check the water first.

Alarms are also an important addition to creating a safer environment. They can be added to windows, doors, gates and the pool to alert an adult when a barrier has been breached.

Knowing how to swim is also considered a layer of protection – and should be considered an essential life skill. According to the CDC, formal swimming lessons can reducethechancesofdrowningby88percent. Perhaps better than anyone else, pool and spa service professionals are in a unique position to raise social awareness concerning the drowning problem. At least once a week, service pros have the opportunity to disseminate information about drowning awareness, either through a frank conversation or dropping off educational materials.

There are numerous sources of literature that can be printed out and left at pool owner’s homes such as those provided by the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance and the National Drowning Prevention Alliance.

Service Industry News also publishes a special Homeowner’s Edition of the paper that underscores the industry’s commitment to prevent drownings. We ask you to please distribute this to all of your customers.

Safety is the name of the game, and the focus of this special issue of Service Industry News.

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