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Safe Carroll: Prep pools for a safe summer

As summer comes upon us and pools begin to open, it is important to be aware of pool safety.

Drowning is among the top five leading causes of accidental deaths in the United States according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and one in five of these deaths are children ages 14 and younger.

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Not all drownings cause fatality, but could lead to severe injuries such as brain damage resulting in long-term disabilities. Many other accidents could result from being in and around the pool, including slips and falls. It is important to make sure pool equipment is not broken and is well maintained in order to avoid injuries.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that drowning rates differ depending on age, gender and race, but children ages 1 to 4 have the highest risk.

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Also, men are at a higher risk of swimming pool fatalities compared to women no matter the age. Inflatable pools can pose a risk of drowning, especially to children younger than 5 because of the flexible sides of the pool and their ability to easily collapse in. It is important to not substitute pool toys such as noodles and inner tubes for a life jacket as a safe floatation device.

To reduce the risk of pool accidents, safety is key.

A great way to start, is to put in an appropriate four-sided fence around all pools both in-ground and above ground. This fence should be at least 4 feet high, and should have self-closing and self-latching gates opening outward. The latches on fences should be out of reach of children. Beginning swimming lessons at a young age can be very also be very beneficial for pool safety. By taking swimming lessons, the risk for drowning can be reduced by as much as 88 percent for children ages 1 to 4.

Children should be supervised in and around the pool at all times. Barriers placed around the pool such as fences, locks and alarms could reduce the risk of children drowning. Supervision of the children should be done by an adult, not another child. When supervising a child or inexperienced swimmer, one should be within arms reach and should not be distracted by any other activities such as reading, use of electronic equipment and playing games.

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Knowing CPR is also very helpful to save drowning victims. If CPR is performed quickly, the chance of brain damage can be reduced as well as the chance of death.

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