Get Healthy Carson City: Pool safety

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Now that the weather is getting warmer, swimming pools and spas are being uncovered and providing fun for the family away from the heat. While this is a great way to cool off and play or unwind in the evening, pools and spas can be a source of danger or illness if not operated correctly or maintained safely.

Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related deaths in children. Drowning happens quietly – parents and caregivers must supervise children when around swimming pools and spas. More than half of the drowning deaths of children from infant to four years old occurred in swimming pools. The risk of children drowning exists at home pools and hot tubs, public pools, and hotel pools and spas.

There are actions parents and caregivers can take to keep children safe around pools and spas:

• Never leave children alone around swimming pools, spas, and other bodies of water. Also, if the child is to be cared for by someone else, such as a daycare provider or babysitter, ask if there is a pool or body of water at that location. Never allow children to swim alone or allow children to watch other children while swimming.

• Adults and caregivers watching children swim must not be distracted – their full attention is needed. They should not be on mobile phones, talking or chatting with others, or reading.

• Children should learn to swim or learn water safety skills if they fall into the water, to float, take a breath, and get to the side of the pool to get out of the water.

• Parents and caregivers should learn CPR. It is a valuable skill for more than just water safety.

• Pools and spas should be enclosed by a fence at least four feet high with a self-closing and self-latching gate. The fence should be made of a material that is not climbable – or have any hand or foot holds. The bottom of the fence should be less than four inches from the ground, and vertical spaces between slats of the fence should be less than four inches of space.

• Be sure to set rules around swimming pools to keep children from getting hurt. Never dive in shallow pools, enter the pool from the shallow end feet first. Do not horse around in or around the pool. And don’t run around the pool – it can be slippery, always walk with care.

Before and during use of a pool and spa, ensure that all the equipment to make the pool operate safely is in good working order. Pool drains should be covered with a drain cover in good condition to avoid entrapment risks. There are other safety measures that can be installed when a pool or spa is being built such as safety vacuum releases and multiple covered drain points.

Pools and spa water are treated with chemicals to protect swimmers from getting sick, to help keep the water disinfected, and to protect pool equipment from corrosion. These chemicals can cause injury if mixed, if they come into contact with skin, or if they are inhaled or ingested.

• Make sure your pool chemistry is maintained within recommended ranges to kill germs but not injure swimmers. Free chlorine concentrations in pools should be a minimum of 1 part per million (ppm) and 3 ppm for spas. The pH for pools and spas should be between 7.2 and 7.8. Maintain a pool water test kit and check the water chemistry often.

• Keep all chemicals stored in a secure, dry location. Chemicals should be kept in their original packaging so they can be easily identified. They should be stored away from sunlight and moisture, and make sure the packaging is not leaking and in good condition.

• Be sure there is good air circulation where the chemicals are stored. Do not store fuels such as lawnmower gas or other items in the chemical storage areas.

Another way to keep everyone safe at the pool is to have proper safety equipment in good repair at the pool and spa. A lifesaving ring with a rope, a reaching pole, and a pool hook are good choices. All non-swimmers and small children should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when they are near water and swimming. Make sure the life jackets are appropriate sizes.

Swimming can bring many hours of fun and exercise. Pools are a fun way to spend time with family and friends. It is very important to follow these steps to ensure everyone stays safe around the water. Happy Swimming!

For information about services and programs available to you through Carson City Health and Human Services, visit our website at www.gethealthycarsoncity.org, or give us a call at 775-887-2190. You can also find us at 900 E. Long St., in Carson City, or follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/cchhs, X @CCHealthEd, or Instagram @GetHealthCarsonCity.


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