Pool Safety Tips from The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida
Never leave a child unattended in a pool or spa, and always watch your child when he or she is in or near water.
Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments.
Have a telephone close by when your family is using a pool or spa.
If a child is missing, look for him or her in the pool or spa first.
Share safety instructions with family, friends and neighbors.
BONITA SPRINGS — Children learned basics of water safety during a fun filled event at Bonita Springs Community Pool Saturday.
However, the real message of the day was for parents.
“Drowning is the leading cause of death in children under age five in the state of Florida,” said Lina Quintana, child advocate for The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. “But it’s 100 percent preventable, as song as you are doing the right things, which are supervise, supervise, supervise.”
Contrary to popular belief, drowning is a quiet event, said Pool Manager Bill Wood.
“I’ve been a lifeguard for 15 years, and I’ve never rescued anyone who called for help,” he said. “It can happen in seconds, and if you’re inside, you’re not going to hear it happen.”
The Children’s Hospital sees hundreds of drowning cases each year. Many children do not survive, and the ones who do are often left with permanent neurological damage, said Dr. Emad Salman, medical director for The Children’s Hospital.
“Drowning is a huge problem in our area,” he said. “There is a lot of water everywhere. We have to make sure our children are safe around water.”
That’s why Lee Memorial has teamed up with Kohl’s department store to host Safe Pool Parties at community pools throughout the county. Through its Kohl’s Cares for Kids program, Kohl’s has donated about $300,000 to The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida for pool and car seat safety programs.
Kohl’s representative Melanie Cramer presented Dr. Salman with a check for $78,276 at Saturday’s Pool Party event in Bonita.
Lifeguards emphasized the “look before you leap” rule by having children skim out hidden objects from a dirty wading pool. Murky water could be contaminated, contain hazards like sharp rocks and glass, or be deeper than expected, lifeguards warned.
They also taught children to “Reach or throw. Don’t Go,” encouraging them not to jump in after someone who is struggling in the water. Instead, they should try to find a long stick or inflatable device to help pull the victim to safety.
Gabriel and Aden Chalick have been taking summer swimming lessons at the Bonita pool and say they have learned these principals plus the rule to always “swim with a friend.”
The Safety Day also provided an opportunity for parents to gather information about the Florida KidCare program, which provides children’s health insurance for $3 to $133 per month, based on household income, said Lee Memorial’s KidCare Coordinator Kim Samuelson.
“A lot of families don’t realize it’s available,” she said. “Most qualify for a $15 per family monthly cost.”
After gathering information and completing activities with the lifeguards, families were invited to enjoy the pool and free hotdogs, chips and drinks.
“We don’t want to prevent them froms swimming and having fun,” Dr. Salman noted. “We just want to make sure they do it in a safe manner.”