How to Drown Proof Your Swim Experience This Summer

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Swim week continues on NBC 5 Today, bringing you stories to prevent drownings and help keep you and your family safe this summer.

If you’re looking at ways to drown-proof your home or apartment complex pool, the Fort Worth YMCA shares some tips to get you started:

Pool Fence

  • Make sure that the fence goes all the way around your pool, not just on one side
  • It must be between 3.5 to 5 feet tall
  • Do not leave a chair or other item near the fence that can make it easy to climb over
  • Some fence models allow you to remove the fence and put it back depending on your needs
  • The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission offers guidelines for safety barriers in backyard pools

Lock or gate

  • It must be child-proof
  • Some models can cost as low as $20-$30 but other models with more complex locks will be more expensive
  • Make sure it has a key, keypad, or some sort of mechanism to prevent the child from opening it
  • Reroute any doggie doors that have direct access to the pool area

Pool cover or net

  • This is placed on top of your pool when you're not swimming or during the winter
  • Some models can cost a few hundred dollars and up to $1,000 or more, depending on the brand and size of your pool so prepare for an investment
  • It is meant to prevent incidents during “unplanned swim times” which can involve a child wandering out to the pool area unexpectedly
  • Should be sturdy enough to support the weight of a child or multiple children

Water Sensors/Alarms

  • Experts recommend the Safety Turtle bracelet
  • Worn by the child and connected to a receiver inside the home. If the bracelet gets wet, the sensor triggers an alarm
  • Shop online for different brands
  • Consider portable door or gate alarms that can be set to trigger when opened

Water Watcher Tags

  • Offered by the YMCA
  • Assigns an adult to watch the water, not use their phone and keep an eye on the kids at all times
  • It can be passed from adult to adult during parties or events
  • Tags are available to any person or group who will use them or would like to distribute them. To receive a Water Watcher Tag, pick one up at any YMCA branch or email safe.kids@cookchildrens.org
  • You can also print them online

Floatation Devices

  • Make sure you have life-saving equipment present such as pool rings
  • A pool noodle is also a useful tool for someone to grab onto in case someone is in distress
  • A reaching pole can help pull someone out of the water in case others cannot safely jump in
  • Keep these items within reach and easily accessible

Click here for more tips from Cook Children's Lifeguard Your Child program.

Additionally, adults will also need to make sure they do not have items laying around the pool that could tempt the child to get in the water.

"So making sure that you're not storing exciting, bright things in the pool area. A child may see their favorite ball or their favorite noodle or raft or whatever and want that's another reason to climb the fence to get to that object,” said Jacquelyn Kotar with the Fort Worth YMCA. “So storing your toys away from the pool area – it's not one more reason to go to go into that area.”

Swim week continues on NBC 5 Today, bringing you stories to prevent drownings and help keep you and your family safe this summer.

Kotar said what's just as important to save a life isn't always what's tangible.

“One of the most basic things parents can do is teach your child to ask permission from any adult to get in the water,” said Kotar.

She said you can teach a child this even before they are verbal.

It's a skill that the YMCA teaches children of all ages as part of their swim lesson programs.

"I get phone calls all the time from parents who call me to say, if my child hadn't been at the YMCA taking some lessons and learned that they need to ask permission," Kotar explained. "I don't know what would have happened this past weekend because I was at a party. No one was swimming. And my child came up to me and said, can I go into the water right now? That is a learned behavior and it's something that should be enforced not just in school lessons, but everywhere you go."

The YMCA said it's also important for families to create an emergency action plan if something happens at a pool, lake, or the beach.

It should include both planned and unplanned swim times because a lot of drownings happen at sudden moments, such as in a bathtub or if a child wanders into a body of water.

"Who's going to call 911 and make sure they're on the way to assist? Does someone in your family or in the party that you're hosting know CPR?" said Kotar. "Because anytime we're on water, we all need to know the sequence of events that happens after an emergency has occurred. And we need to talk about it. We need to practice it so that way it's second nature if an incident happens. Not only does it help us prepare for when that happens, but it sets the tone for how the family needs to behave around the water."

Right now, Children’s Health has also created a resource to help families prepare for the summer.

Parents and guardians can also text WATER to 77444 or AGUA to 77444 for Spanish and a water safety tip will be sent to them every other Friday through the end of the year.

Tips will include helpful information such as where to find swim lessons in their area, how to properly choose a life jacket, and the importance of having a designated water watcher. Families can opt-in or out of messages whenever they would like.

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