Magazine article USA TODAY

Parental Precautions Prevent Tragedy

Magazine article USA TODAY

Parental Precautions Prevent Tragedy

Article excerpt

Adult supervision is the key to keeping children safe in backyard pools, maintains Underwriters Laboratories Inc., Northbrook. Ill., an independent, not-for-profit testing and certification organization. According to the the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Bethesda, Md., more than 250 children under the age of five drown each year, most frequently in home swimming pools. Moreover, in 2004, some 2,300 children were treated at emergency rooms for nonfatal, near-drowning incidents. That number is up from 1,800 for 2003.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Ga., reports that more than 40% of the youngsters who receive emergency treatment also require hospitalization. Even nonfatal incidents can cause brain damage, ranging from memory difficulties and learning disabilities to a permanent vegetative state.

"Contrary to what you might think, children drown silently. There's not a lot of splashing or crying for help," reveals John Drengenberg, manager of Consumer Affairs for Underwriters Laboratories. "Every second counts when preventing a drowning accident."

Drengenberg points out that, in many drownings, children had been missing for less than five minutes. He strongly recommends following the 10/20 rule. "The supervising adult needs to be able scan the pool within 10 seconds and reach the pool within 20 seconds," he explains.

Other safety tips include:

* If a child is missing, always check the pool first.

* Be sure the pool is in plain sight from the house, Remove any vegetation or objects that obstruct a clear view. …

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