Monday, July 16, 2012

Swimming safely in backyard pools

It's an activity that's synonymous with summer. And when the season arrives, many Canadians waste no time making a splash in a public, indoor or backyard pool.

In addition to helping you stay fit and beat the heat, swimming is a great way to have some fun. Still, if you're not careful, a swimming pool can also be a dangerous place. Approximately 60 children under the age of 14 drown each year in Canada. There have already been dozens of drownings across the country this summer, and the season is just getting started.

Here's a breakdown of what you need to know to keep your family safe.


While most drowning victims in Canada each year tend to be adults, and most tend to occur in lakes and rivers, incidents around pools tend to involve young people.

“All children are at risk. You'll see that the younger kids are at risk due to concerns with supervision, and they need to be very closely supervised at all times,” says Warren, the Canadian Red Cross' Regional Manager for First Aid and Water Safety Services in Toronto.

“For the older kids, they tend to be more of the risk takers. Also, some of them overestimate their swimming ability, so again it's important that they are being supervised.”


When the sun is shining and temperatures are soaring, many Canadians see a backyard pool as a great place to cool off and entertain guests. However, some officials say there may be a correlation between an increase in temperatures and an increase in drownings.

“My opinion is that with hot weather there's more participation in pools,” says Barabara Byers of the Lifesaving Society.

Make a set of 'pool rules' for your backyard

Warren agrees that a correlation appears to be evident between drownings and warm weather.

“I think when you look at the statistics of drownings, there seems to be a lot more when we get those very high patches of hot weather,” she says.


“You want to make sure your children's behaviour is conducive to still having fun, but staying safe,” says Warren. “Parents need to stay within sight and reach of their children whenever they're anywhere near the pool, not just in the water. Also, it's important that parents get trained in First Aid and CPR skills, because many parents don't know CPR.”

The Canadian Red Cross suggests that anyone with a pool in their backyard create a set of 'Pool Rules' for their children, family members and friends. These rules are to be communicated before anyone goes into the water.

“We suggest that a 'pool rule' be that no one can go into the water without an adult present,” says Warren. “If anyone's a non-swimmer they should be wearing a life jacket in the pool. Only dive into the deepest point of the pool if it is deep enough for diving. Pools need to be secured. They need to be fenced in with a self-closing, self-latching gate. Also, you should always have safety equipment in your pool so you can help a person. If the worst does happen, make sure you make that call to 911 right away.”

Proper fencing around pools is often advised to keep children safe. It is a by-law in some Canadian municipalities, but fencing is not yet required across the country.

Here are some other tips from the Canadian Red Cross you should keep in mind:

Tell visitors the pool rules

Always supervise

Use personal flotation devices, not toys for support

Encourage feet first entries

No one should ever dive into an above ground pool

Do not wear earplugs; they can add dangerous pressure as you descend

Keep safety equipment nearby Alcohol and pools don’t mix.

Thanks Weather Network

Kathy Dowsett

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