Pool closures could increase drowning risk for some swimmers, experts say

With pools closed, more swimmers may head to open bodies of water.

Posted: Jul 20, 2020 5:46 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- The American Academy of Pediatrics has released a list of drowning prevention recommendations for families to follow this summer.

The list includes learning CPR, having a four-sided fence, with a self-closing and self-latching gate around the pool and wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when in open water, or on a watercraft.

The American Academy of Pediatrics had the following tips: 

  • All children and adults should learn to swim. If swim lessons in your area have been suspended because of COVID-19, it’s important to focus on other layers of protection until your child can access lessons.
  • Close, constant, attentive supervision around water is important. Assign an adult “water watcher,” who should not be distracted by work, socializing, or chores.
  • When infants or toddlers are in or around the water, a supervising adult with swimming skills should be within an arm’s length, providing constant “touch supervision.”
  • Around the house, adults should empty all buckets, bathtubs and wading pools immediately after use. If you have young children, keep the bathroom door closed and do not leave them alone in the bathroom. Toilet locks can prevent drowning of toddlers.
  • Pools should be surrounded by a four-sided fence, with a self-closing and self-latching gate. Research shows pool fencing can reduce drowning risk by half. Additional barriers can include door locks, window locks, pool covers and pool alarms.
  • Adults and older children should learn CPR.
  • Everyone--children and adults--should wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets whenever they’re in open water, or on watercraft.
  • Parents and teens should understand how using alcohol and drugs increases the risk of drowning while swimming or boating.

Dr. Angela Zallen, a pediatric hospitalist at RiverBend Hospital, says children are spending more time at home around pools, bathtubs and other drowning risks.

“Fewer opportunities to swim in pools this summer may mean more time swimming in open bodies of water with hazards like cold temperatures, dangerous currents, sudden drop-offs, and rocks, stumps or other underwater debris,” Zallen said.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics drowning is the single leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 4 nationwide, and it’s one of the top causes of death for teens.

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