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National Child Safety Expert, Alison Rhodes, “The Safety Mom,” is one of the country's leading child safety authorities, providing tips and advice to parents on a broad range of issues facing all children - newborns to teens.

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Having Safe Fun in the Sun with Your Kids
by Alison Rhodes

With the warm weather finally here, everyone's thoughts turn to lazy afternoons outside. Well, everyone that is, except moms with kids who know that a day in the park or backyard means a forty-yard dash as you try to keep up with your children.

And while summers are filled with care "free" days, they still need to be careful days as well. This is especially true if you or friends you are visiting have a pool.

The statistics are sobering. Drowning is the second leading cause of injury-related deaths among children. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 300 children under 5 years old drown in swimming pools. Another 2,000 children are treated in emergency rooms for submersion injuries. Approximately 75% of those children were between 1 and 3 years of age. Also, at the time of the incident most of the children were being supervised by one or both parents. Drowning can occur in a matter of minutes and, unlike scenes in movies or on TV, drowning victims cannot cry out - drowning is a silent death.

The following are some important recommendations from the Consumer Product Safety Commission in helping create a safer environment if you own a pool.

  • Install a fence completely around your pool. This should be at least four feet high but preferably five feet. If your house opens right onto the pool, the doors leading from the house to the pool should be protected with an alarm.

  • Vertical slats on the fence should be less than 4 inches apart to prevent a child from squeezing through.

  • If the fence is chain link, then no part of the diamond-shaped opening should be larger than 1-3/4 inches.

  • Be sure there are no objects such as lawn chairs or riding toys around the fence that your child could use as leverage to climb over.

  • Fence gates should be self-closing and self-latching.

  • A power safety cover should also be installed. Be sure this cover meets the requirements of the ASTM pool cover standard that addresses labeling requirements and performance.

  • If you have an above-ground pool, steps and ladders leading to the pool should be secured and locked or removed when the pool is not in use.

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