The unthinkable happened again recently in Pinellas County. Not one, but three people drowned in one day. In a county that is surrounded by water and home to countless swimming pools, drainage creeks, ponds, lakes, toilets and buckets of standing water we need to be more vigilant.
Wait, did he say toilets and buckets of water?
Yes, any source of standing water that can cover a victim’s mouth and nose is a drowning hazard. For an infant or toddler, the toilet and a bucket are an attraction that curious ones explore, only to fall prey to their own top-heavy bodies that cause them to topple into these unsupervised hazards. Empty the bucket when you’re finished with a chore, and close the lid to the toilet when not in use.
The greater problem, however, is the fact that in the city of Seminole response district there are a total of 21,932 single-family homes, of which 8,064 (36.8 percent) of the total homes have pools. This number indicates that greater than a third of the Seminole population faces the risk of a pool-related drowning incident at their home.
How can we save lives and change the tide of this risk and hazard? Quite simply, we must be responsible and take the appropriate protective measures to prevent accidental drowning.
By following the “Four Layers of Pool Safety” as instituted by Florida Safe Pools we can make a difference in keeping our children safe in the community.
The first layer begins with you. Direct supervision by the caregiver will keep little ones from entering the pool area. Also, limit distractions that will interfere with that supervision.
The second layer focuses on inside the home. Have a clear view of the pool area from within the house. Access to exterior doors should be limited to adults. The use of childproof door locks and alarms on all doors leading to the pool area is helpful as well.
The third layer refers to outside the home. Your backyard and pool area should be secured with fences and self-closing and self-latching gates. Using an alarm on the gate is also helpful.
The fourth layer is the pool area itself. Keep pool toys and floating objects out of the pool, these are attractions that draw kids close to the water’s edge. Remove all trip hazards away from the pool’s edge.
Also maintaining the water level three to four inches from the top is important. This allows you to see disturbances on the surface and to see into the pool better. Wave alarms that sense surface motion are also beneficial. Lastly, a security pool cover can be used in the off-season and will limit access to the water when it is not expected.
Other water related hazards include the great number of people that enjoy boating. Youngsters under six need to wear a USCG approved life jacket while aboard, as does anyone that is not a proficient swimmer. When an individual is knocked overboard, there is no time for them to grab a life jacket on the way out.
Finally, if you don’t know how to swim, then you should learn. There are many classes offered in the area, including through the city of Seminole’s Recreation Department and the local YMCAs. Also learn the life skill of CPR. The little time it takes to learn this skill can indeed help save a life.
We are a community that is blessed with the relaxation and beauty that the water offers. Let us respect the hazards that exist with it and keep our loved ones safe.
Brad Dykens is public education officer for Seminole Fire Rescue. For more information on this topic or if you would like to learn CPR, contact him at 393-8711 ext. 210 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.