Use caution around pools

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 15, 2004

Knowing the do's and don'ts around the swimming pool could be the difference between life and death.

That's why it's important that parents educate their children on the precautions they need to follow while at the pool.

"Safety around the pool is very important," YMCA of Greenville Executive Director Amanda Phillips said. "With a lot of children in a lot of water, everyone has to be trained and the children need to know the rules. We're in the process of teaching a lifeguard certification course right now. We not only train guards for our pool, but guards for other pools as well."

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Now is the perfect time for parents to go over pool rules with their children as public and private pools prepare to open for the summer in the next couple of weeks.

The YMCA is currently open from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday until it officially opens on May 24. Phillips said the Y is a good place for children to learn pool safety.

"The lifeguards go over the rules with the children everyday and all children have to pass a swim test before they go into the middle or deep end of the pool," she said.

The swim test is a test of endurance for the young swimmers. Swimmers must swim from one side of the pool to the other without stopping or putting their feet on the bottom of the pool. A wristband worn by each child determines their boundaries within the pool.

"If you do not pass the test or do not wish to take the test we give the children a red wristband which permits them to use only the shallow end," Phillips said. "If you pass the test, you get a green wristband which allows you to go all over the pool."

Swim lessons are another option for children to become more familiar with pool rules. The YMCA will begin its first of five twonweek swim lesson sessions beginning May 24. The other four sessions will follow every two weeks throughout the summer.

Here are some pool safety tips parents need to follow:

n Make sure your child can swim. This also includes adults.

n Never leave a child unobserved around water. Your eyes must be on the child at all times. Adult supervision is recommended.

n Install a phone by the pool or keep a cordless phone nearby so that you can call 9-1-1 in an emergency.

n Learn Red Cross CPR and insist that babysitters, grandparents, and others who care for your child know CPR.

n Post CPR instructions and 9-1-1 or your local emergency number in the pool area.

n Enclose the pool completely with a self-locking, self-closing fence with vertical bars. Openings in the fence should be no more than four inches wide. If the house is part of the barrier, the doors leading from the house to the pool should remain locked and be protected with an alarm that produces sounds when the door is unexpectedly opened.

n Never leave furniture near the fence that would enable a child to climb over the fence.

n Always keep basic lifesaving equipment by the pool and know how to use it. Pole, rope, and personal flotation devices (PFDs) are recommended. Don’t rely on substitutes. The use of flotation devices and inflatable toys cannot replace parental supervision. Such devices could suddenly shift position, lose air, or slip out from underneath, leaving the child in a dangerous situation.

n Keep toys away from the pool when it is not in use. Toys can attract young children into the pool.

n Pool covers should always be completely removed prior to pool use.

n To learn more about home pool safety, you can purchase the video It Only Takes a Minute from your local Red Cross chapter.

n If a child is missing, check the pool first. Go to the edge of the pool and scan the entire pool, bottom, and surface, as well as the surrounding pool area.

n Enroll children in a water safety course or a Learn to Swim program. Your decision to provide your child with an early aquatic experience is a gift that will have infinite rewards. These courses encourage safe practices. You can also purchase a Community Water Safety manual at your local Red Cross.

n Never swim during a storm or when there is lightning.

n Never swim alone. Always use the buddy system.

n Swim only in safe, guarded areas.

n Know how deep the water is.

n Don't dive or jump into water that is not at least 12 feet deep.

n Don't run around a pool, push people in or dunk other swimmers.

n Don't chew gum or eat food while swimming, diving or playing in the water.

Special Event

The YMCA will be holding a luau to help raise money for a new slide today from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the pool.

There will be hamburgers, hotdogs and all the trimmings available along with a door prize giveaway.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children and can be purchased at the YMCA.