5 safety tips for above ground backyard pools

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As families use their above-ground pools this summer, the risk of serious injury and drowning begins to increase.

Dr. Christina Johns, Senior Medical Advisor for PM Pediatrics, has five safety precautions to keep children safe:

1. Shallower doesn’t mean safer

Just because your child can stand up in an above ground pool doesn’t mean parents can turn their backs on them. A child can drown in as little as six inches of water if submerged.

2. No jumping or diving

Above ground pools are shallow, no more than four feet deep, and not deep enough to prevent injury to the feet, ankles and legs (jumping) or head and neck (diving). Do not push other children inside or jump on others in the pool. In the event of an accident, watch for numbness or vomiting, which may indicate neurological trauma and be a real emergency.

3. Ladder Safety

Most above ground pools require a ladder to get in and out of, and they can get slippery and cause injury. Just like there’s no running around a pool, there’s no rushing a ladder.

4. Personal floatation devices

Make sure you have an appropriately sized, Coast Guard approved PFD for your child. “Water Wings” and similar floats often give parents and caregivers a false sense of security, when in fact they are unlikely to actually save a life.

5. No food or chewing gum while swimming

It goes without saying, but everything in your mouth while swimming (except your teeth and tongue) is a choking hazard.

In addition, these are the three myths that must be “busted” every summer:

1. “Dry drowning” is not real and children who “swallow water” while swimming do not need to be monitored for days on end for signs of respiratory distress. Instead, parents should check for rapid breathing or an inability to speak in full sentences immediately after the event. If there are no respiratory symptoms or cough about 4 hours after a watering episode, a water-related respiratory problem is unlikely to occur.

2. Waiting 45 minutes after eating before getting back into the water is a total myth.

3. Clear pool water means it is safe. Fake. Germs can still exist in clear pool water, so the water should be sampled and tested regularly to ensure the chemicals are properly balanced.

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