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Your Kids and the Pool

July 06, 2018

Summer is in full swing with many families hopping into the pool to cool down from the heat. However, many things can happen at the pool when adults get distracted. According to statistics, 77% of children involved in in a home drowning accident had been missing for no more than five minutes when they were found in the pool.[1] Before heading to the pool this summer, be prepared to prevent emergencies from happening.


Drowning is often known as a “silent” event. It’s not like in the movies with the victim yelling for help or flailing their arms. More often than not, a drowning person is too busy trying to breathe and stay afloat rather than calling for help. This has led to an average of 3,536 people, many of them children, dying from drowning every year. In fact, it’s the fifth leading cause of accidental death in the United States.[2] Here are things that you should know when it comes to your children and swimming:

  • Teach your children water safety and swimming skills as early as possible.
  • If your child is an inexperienced swimmer, do not rely on flotation devices alone to prevent drowning.
  • Know the signs of drowning:
    • Unresponsive when asked if they are okay
    • Head low in the water, mouth at water-level
    • Head tilted back with mouth open
    • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus or close
    • Appearing to climb an invisible ladder

If you suspect someone is drowning, follow these guidelines:

  • Either alert the life guard or instruct a friend or family member to call 9-1-1 as you try to assist.
  • Toss a life saving device, like a rope, towel or even a pool noodle rather than jumping in to save them. Jumping in should be a last resort, as it is very easy to be pulled under with them.
  • If you do have to jump in to save someone, use a Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Approach them from behind to prevent them from pulling you under.

Once the victim is safe, look for signs of secondary drowning. The victim might still have water in their lungs and can suffocate hours later. In this case, look for difficulty breathing, tiredness and coughing hours after the incident.

If the victim is pulled from the water and you notice that they are not breathing and unconscious, seek medical attention right away. If you or someone nearby is CPR certified, assist with CPR until medical personnel arrive. Whether you are in your backyard or at the neighborhood pool, St. Vincent Neighborhood Hospital provides quick, streamlined emergency care close to you. Minutes matter in an emergency, which is why you can expect to see a doctor within 15 minutes of your arrival at each of our facilities.

Slips and Falls

When the kids are out and about having fun, they tend to forget about their surroundings. While many slips or falls end up as a minor scrape or bruise, recklessness around the pool can put a child at risk for broken bones, concussions or drowning.

  • Stop children from running and playing in areas that are slippery and covered in water. If you own a pool, consider adding signs to areas that you know are prone to being slippery.
  • Ensure that pool-side walkways have adequate traction and non-slip surface covering.
  • Encourage swimmers to wear shoes or non-skid flip flips when they aren’t swimming.
  • Be aware of tripping hazards near the pool, such as pool toys or outdoor furniture, and make sure they stay clear and far back from the water.
  • Make sure safety railing is installed at every entrance of the pool.
  • If there is a party going on, make sure that no one is carrying too many items near the pool.

If your child needs medical attention right away, find a St. Vincent Neighborhood Hospital near you.

Other Tips

  • As adults, always have a dedicated watcher. You can take turns with your family members or friends to make sure that the kids are safe and following the pool rules.
  • Keep a first aid kit near the pool and make sure it’s stocked with everything you need.
  • Get CPR-certified and keep CPR instructions handy near the pool.
  • When you are in and around the pool, you are surrounded by twice as much UV rays as they reflect off the water, making you more prone to sunburns. Check our Sunburn Emergencies blog post to learn how to protect your skin in the sun.
  • If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, do not wait. Call 9-1-1.