There's nothing more refreshing on a hot summer day than a dip in a cool pool. But there are plenty of potential hazards poolside, so be informed and alert in order to ensure the safety of your friends and family.
- Never leave a child unsupervised near a pool including a portable "kiddy" pool even for a few seconds.
- Do not consider young children ''drown-proof'' because they have had swimming lessons. They should always be watched carefully while swimming.
- Do not use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision.
- Instruct baby sitters about potential hazards to young children in and around swimming pools. Emphasize the need for constant supervision.
- During social gatherings at or near a pool, appoint a ''designated watcher'' to protect young children from pool accidents. Adults may take turns being the ''watcher.'' When adults become preoccupied, children are at risk.
- Completely fence the pool.
- Install self-closing and self-latching gates. Position latches out of reach of young children.
- Make sure the gate is in proper working order — the weak link in the strongest and highest fence is a gate that fails to close and latch completely.
- Never prop open the gate to a pool barrier.
- Keep all doors and windows leading to the pool area secure to prevent small children from getting near the pool.
- Keep toys away from the pool area because a young child playing with the toys could accidentally fall in the water.
- Place tables and chairs well away from the pool fence to prevent children from climbing into the pool area.
- Remove steps to above-ground pools when not in use.
- Never dive into above-ground pools. They're too shallow.
- Don't dive from the side of an in-ground pool. Enter the water feet first.
- Dive only from the end of the diving board and not from the sides.
- Dive with your hands in front of you and always steer up immediately upon entering the water to avoid hitting the bottom or sides of the pool.
- For your own safety, do not dive if you have been using alcohol or drugs because your reaction time may be too slow.
- Improper use of pool slides presents the same danger as improper diving techniques. Never slide down head-first; slide down feet-first only.
- Have a telephone — and emergency numbers — at poolside to avoid having to leave children unattended in or near the pool to answer a telephone elsewhere.
- Faulty or missing drain covers can be an entrapment hazard to swimmers, so make sure your pool and all its drains, pipes, and openings have been inspected by a pool safety inspector. Advise children to stay away from drains and openings while swimming.
- Learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Baby sitters and other caretakers, such as grandparents and older siblings, should also know CPR.
- If a child is missing, check the pool first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability. Go to the edge of the pool and scan the entire pool, bottom and surface, as well as the pool areas.