Experts re-emphasize pool safety in summer
With summer fun comes summer warnings about keeping safe in the pool.
The top safety tips:
Keep young children away from the pool unless there is supervision at all times.
Avoid swimming alone.
While most safety advice is aimed at keeping children out of danger, more adults than children drowned in Long Island pools from 2008 through 2010.
Out of 25 pool drowning victims (12 in Nassau, 13 in Suffolk) reported for those three years, 16 were adults, four were aged 11 to 17, and five were 4 or younger. No pool deaths have been reported so far this year.
"I think we should always reinforce that if anyone is in the backyard pool, child or adult, they should never swim alone," said Diana Price, aquatics director for the Nassau chapter of the American Red Cross, which teaches swimming to about 10,000 children each summer.
"There can always be a medical emergency," Price said.
She added: "The most important thing is that no child should be left alone anywhere near water, not even for a second."
Basic measures to safeguard young children are a four-sided fence around the pool, self-closing gate latches, and alarms on doors and windows leading directly out to a pool area.
Caution should apply to any vessel of water, even a bucket, Price said.
And "if you have a hot tub, make sure it's completely latched and locked when not in use and make sure nobody can get under the cover," she said.
In 2008, after several drownings in Long Island's pools were reported by June 1, water safety campaigns were launched by localities including Suffolk County and the Town of Hempstead. The town went even further than state law by requiring pool alarms in all pools in its unincorporated areas, where the town has jurisdiction. State law requires alarms for new pools.
Pool safety may be more on people's minds now.
"Over the last five years, the sale of pool alarms, door and gate alarms have skyrocketed, up 500 percent easily," said Michael Dominici, owner of Long Island Pool and Patio in Coram.
"People definitely are more aware," Dominici said. "In years past, people just put the pool in. Now, without a doubt, they say 'We want a separate fence [around the pool],' or 'Do you have a baby lock?' or 'What kind of cover should we put on in the winter?' "
Tips for pool safety
Keep a phone and snacks by the pool to avoid trips to the house. Adults should take kids with them if they have to leave the pool area for any reason.
Put away pool toys that may attract children to an unsupervised pool. Anchor or put away chairs or children's furniture that a child could drag and use to climb over a pool fence.
A house alarm system with a chime feature can alert homeowners to those exiting the house to get to the pool.
Don't disable a door alarm or prop open doors during parties.
Teach children as young as toddlers to swim.