As the summer approaches, most if not all Long Islanders who own a pool have started the process of opening their pools. Fortunately, the situation this summer is a little more optimistic than last year. With the covid-19 vaccine proving to be effective in preventing the spread of the virus including mutating variants, the infection rate in New York is at an all-time low, and continues to stay on a downward slope. It is not surprising then, that many Long Islanders are excited to return to a sense of normalcy this summer. With the school year almost ending, and temperatures rising, it’s worth discussing once again the need for parents to ensure the safety of their children when opening their swimming pools.
It’s important to remember that although things are looking up with the pandemic, it is not over yet. Additionally, at the time this was written, children under 12 years of age are not eligible to take the covid-19 vaccine yet. This means that they still are able to get sick from the virus, and spread it to others. This is important to note if you are inviting children from other households, or having a pool party.
Even if you are having adults or kids old enough to have the vaccine, it is important to communicate with them what precautions, if any, are being taken. Each household has the right to decide the safety standards for their family, and some have chosen not to take the vaccine and as a result, are more susceptible to getting the virus. In these instances, communication is key to ensure everyone is comfortable with the situation.
Currently, the CDC’s understanding of the virus remains the same as last summer, where being outdoors, and in a swimming pool on its own presents a lower risk of spreading the virus. This risk is further reduced to almost no risk if individuals in the swimming pool are vaccinated. Recommendations for safe pool environments can be found on their website.
The most important thing to remember about pools is to know who is in your pool. Never leave children or novice swimmers unattended. Accidental drowning can happen in a matter of seconds. So, never take your eyes off your children when they’re in the pool, and know the swimming skill level of everyone going into your pool.
Teach your children how to swim. The best way to avoid accidental drowning is to be proactive and teach your children how to swim. Even if you don’t have a pool, it’s a good idea to teach your children how to swim. There are pools everywhere, there is a high chance that your children will come in contact with a pool at some point. The best time to learn how to swim is at an early age. Children are inherently good swimmers and pick it up very quickly at a young age. Also, there are many programs that offer inexpensive lessons to children.
Install fences and barriers around your pool. This is not only a good idea, but it is also usually a requirement in most towns. Pools should always be isolated from the rest of your yard to avoid children accidentally falling into the pool. All gates should be self-closing and there should be no gaps or openings in the fencing.
Never swim alone. Even if you are an experienced swimmer, it is a good idea to swim with another person. Medical emergencies happen unexpectedly and can strike anyone. If you are swimming alone and suddenly experience a medical emergency, you could accidentally drown.
Additionally, avoid diving headfirst. Diving headfirst can be dangerous, especially if the pool is shallow. It is not safe to dive headfirst into a pool that is not at least eight feet deep.
It is also extremely important to never swim under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs can seriously impact your coordination and judgment. This can lead to serious issues when swimming.
Learn Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). Rescue measures can help avoid serious injury and could even be the difference between life and death. If you own a pool or have young children, it’s a really good idea to learn CPR. It takes just a few hours and classes are offered at several places, including the Red Cross.
Keeping these safety tips in mind during summer can help ensure that you have a great summer and avoid unnecessary tragedies.
Pool chemicals, like chlorine, are needed to protect swimmers’ health. However, mishandling pool chemicals can cause serious injuries. Pool chemical injuries lead to about 4,500 U.S. hospital visits each year, and over one-third of these preventable injuries are in children or teens. There’s an abundance of tests you can use to make sure your chemicals are safe. Even if you hire someone else to do the chemicals in your pool, it is still good to double-check the chemical levels yourself so you know it is safe for your children. The ranges of chlorine (or bromine if you use that instead) should be:
1–10 parts per million (ppm) free chlorine or 3–8 ppm bromine
If the pH is too high or too low, it can cause problems, including decreasing chlorine’s or bromine’s ability to kill germs. It can also cause skin and eye irritation in swimmers and damage pool pipes and other equipment. Additionally, chemicals should be stored somewhere that kids cannot reach.
Steven Palermo is the managing partner for Palermo Law, Long Island’s Personal Injury Law Firm. He has been helping people receive compensation for their injuries for over 21 years. He focuses on cases involving car accidents, truck accidents, construction accidents and slip and fall injuries.
His book The Ultimate Guide to Handling New York Car Accident Claims details the ins and outs of a car accident claim in a simple, easy-to-read manner.