Mansfield Living

Playing it safe in pool

Summer is right around the corner and that means across the country backyard pools will be filled with kids and adults doing their best to beat the heat. But with summertime fun comes some precautions all swimmers should follow to have a safe summer.

Members of Mansfield emergency staff and coaches with the district’s swim teams are well versed in pool safety. The safety of pool goers is a top priority for the people in charge of these facilities.

“Every year before school lets out for the summer, we do an annual inspection on all community pools in the city,” said Fire Marshal Clay Cawood. “That includes everything from fire extinguishers to flotation devices.”

The inspectors also check the 911 phone at the pool to make sure that it has a direct connection in case of an emergency and to make sure the facilities have a first-aid kit.

While the city is doing its best to make sure pool facilities are safe, there are still many things residents can do to make sure they have a safe time in the water.

“Know where you are at, know your surroundings. Definitely have a life preserver handy, especially if there are weaker swimmers,” Cawood said.

Perhaps the biggest safety tip the experts have for pool goers is learning how to swim. The Center for Disease Control reports that more than 3,500 people unintentionally drown per year. About one in five of those drowning deaths are of children age 14 and younger. CDC research shows that participation in formal swimming lessons can drastically reduce the number of drowning victims.

The Mansfield ISD Natatorium gives third-graders a pool safety lesson. Kids learn to have an adult present while swimming, looking before they jump in the water and to not run on the wet surfaces around a pool.

“It’s called the water safety field trip. The kids learn about looking before they get into the pool, having an adult present and they get a chance to learn about rescuing victims from a pool,” said Jerry Smith, MISD diving coach and instructor of the field trip. “They actually get into a water rescue, and they pretend rescue a victim without getting in the water. Then we evaluate their swimming and send a report card home to their parents.”

Some simple precautions adults can take with children include general supervision and the use of flotation devices. It’s also recommended that parents be in the pool with kids that are still learning how to swim.

But the water isn’t the only potential danger for pool goers. There are also two large factors that have contributed to drowning death toll every year: heat and alcohol.

“With adults being served, people having a drink, they don’t need to jump into the pool if there is a problem. A parental instinct with a child in trouble (is to) jump in,” Cawood said. “That’s why you need a flotation device handy, because drinking and jumping into the pool can lead to problems.”

When it comes to alcohol, limiting yourself around the pool, especially in hot weather, can greatly reduce accidents. The CDC reports that among adolescents and adults, alcohol use is involved in up to 70 percent of deaths that involve the water.

It is also recommended that when enjoying the water to have someone on hand that can perform CPR for all ages. Seconds count when it comes to potential drowning victims, and the faster CPR is started, the better the chance of a good outcome.