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Poolside Safety For Kids

Now that the heat is on, many of us will be cooling off in a back yard pool. That can be fun, but it can also be dangerous.

Connie Harvey, an associate in educational development for the American Red Cross, offered CBS News suggestions on keeping children safe around pools.

Drowning is the leading cause of death in young children. Each year more than 375 children younger than age 5 drown in residential pools. Another 2,300 children under age 5 are hospitalized for care related to submersion in pools.

If you have a pool and want to avoid these dangers, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Safe Kids Campaign and the American Academy of Pediatrics all offer the same guidelines to ensure the safety of your child. Safety tips also are available at the American Red Cross site.

Here are some common sense recommendations:

  • Don't install a pool until your child is at least 5 years of age.
  • Do not leave a child unattended in the pool. Keep a phone by the pool so that you don't have to go inside to answer it and can quickly dial 911 if there is an emergency.
  • Keep a shepherd's crook and a life preserver by the pool.
  • Learn CPR and keep a list of emergency procedures by the pool.
  • Sign your child up for swimming lessons.
  • Do not rely on flotation devices. But if you are going to put any flotation device on your child, it should be U.S. life guard approved, and be of the correct size and weight for the child.
  • Be sure that the gate to the pool is self-closing.
Some recommendations require a small investment:

A sliding door alarm will ensure that a child can't enter the pool area without your knowledge. The alarm sounds within seven seconds after the door opens unless a pad, which can be installed within reach of adults but too high for children, is touched. Sliding door alarms cost about $60.

Fencing can surround the pool on all four sides in addition to the fence that surrounds the yard. The gate should be self-closing and self-locking with a latch that is out of reach of children. A chain link fence poses a problem because it gives a foothold up. If it's a wooden gate, make sure any piece that can serve as a foothold is on the pool side, not the outside.

Pool covers are additional safety barriers. There are electric pool covers, manual covers and hydraulic cover systems which run from inexpensive to $9,000. They must be kept securely in place, or a child can get under them and suffocate.

A pool alarm is triggered when anyone enters the water. These can be senstive, and people turn them off because they give false alarms. But they can also be life saving. Pool alarms cost about $250.

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