Pool safety: How to prevent drowning this summer

As the summer heat rises and pools open for the season, it's crucial to prioritize pool safety. Drowning poses a significant risk for children aged 1 to 4, especially in home swimming pools or spas. Experts want parents and caregivers to know the alarming statistics, but also the advice to ensure a safe and enjoyable summer by the pool.

According to the CDC, drowning is one of the leading causes of death for children between the ages of 1 and 4. On average, nearly 4,000 people lose their lives to drowning each year, equating to approximately 11 drowning deaths every day. This highlights the gravity of the issue and the need for preventive measures.

Dr. Brad Uren, an emergency physician from the University of Michigan Health, says it's important to know what drowning actually looks like.

"The notion that someone may be flailing or splashing or calling out for help is really not that common if someone's drowning. In the cases that I've seen over the last couple of decades in emergency medicine, oftentimes, people may just slip below the water without a sound, without any obvious signs of distress. And in the cases where people have been successfully rescued, it was because the people around them were vigilant. They happen to notice that the person wasn't swimming as they normally were. They were underwater longer than they had been previously. And those were those cases where people were able to successfully rescue them because they were so vigilant about how people were swimming and that this was not normal," Uren said.

RELATED: Which sunscreen should you choose? Here are the best of 2023

Children are particularly vulnerable to drowning incidents. For every child who dies from drowning, another eight require emergency care for nonfatal drowning. To prevent such tragedies, parents should be diligent in supervising children in the water or designate a designated water watcher with no distractions. 

"If they were to fall into the pool, or fall into water, know how to tread water, how to get themselves to the surface. How to tread water for a period of time, so that they can be rescued. And also just being able to swim at least a certain distance and understand in their environment: where are the safe places to get out of that water? Where are ladders? Where are stairs? Where are the shallow spots that they can get to if they were to fall into water? That's not a substitute for very careful supervision and floatation devices. But having that just-in-case emergency awareness, and those basic skills can absolutely be lifesaving,' Uren said.

Additionally, installing alarms on house doors leading to the pool or using floating alarms can provide an extra layer of safety. It's essential to keep toys out of the pool area, as curious toddlers may try to access them by sneaking through fences.

Remember, drowning is often a silent and swift event. By raising awareness about pool safety and following these precautions, we can help prevent tragedies and ensure a summer filled with fun and safe swimming experiences.