Do I need a fence for the inflatable above-ground pool? Pediatric Emergency Notes

Do I need a fence for our above ground pool? Drowning prevention,We don’t have a built-in pool at our home, but we often use a little splash pool which got me to thinking about the safety of above-ground pools — you know, the sort that just go up for the summer, whether rigid sides or inflatable, and come down when school is back in session.

As a pediatric emergency department nurse I’ve seen my fill of child drowning victims and so I tend to be hypervigilant around pools. The absolutely crushing part about drownings is that they are nearly always preventable.

I asked Jessica Mitchell, Safe Kids Pima County coordinator, what the rules are regarding fencing and general safety practices around temporary above-ground pool structures.

“The law…oh the law on pools! It can be so confusing. Pretty much, if you have a pool that is taller than 18 inches and wider than 8 feet intended for swimming, it requires a fence/barrier that is at least 5 feet tall with a self-closing or self-latching gate. The entire law for pools can be found on the Arizona government pages“ Jessica shares.

“Mesh fencing is a great option for those with above-ground temporary pools because when the pool comes down, the mesh fence can also come down. There is one exception to having to put up a pool fence, and that is if everyone in the household is 6 years or older, no safety measures need to be in place. This doesn’t mean this is the safest option. Not everyone over the age of 6 can swim, and even swimmers can get into difficulty in a pool.

“If you decide to get a temporary above-ground pool make sure you have a fence at least 5 feet tall with a self-latching gate. Make sure your child cannot use a chair or other item to climb over the barrier or to unlatch the gate. And emphasize to all kids and adults that the gate is not to be propped open.”

Also, we worry most about pool mishaps in the summer, but be vigilant all year for drowing hazards. Empty the cooler of melted ice water; dispose of the bucket of mop water; drain the bathtub (and never leave your toddler or pre-schooler in the tub unsupervised). Unfortunately, we see all these drowning scenarios in the emergency department.

Whether it’s in the pool, the ocean or the bathtub, you will not hear a child drowing. Drowning is silent … keep your eyes on your child.

This summer we’re going to follow all the advice above as well as the ABCs of pool safety whether it’s a splash pool or a regular pool:

“A” is for Adult Supervision

Always have an adult watching the pool, not reading, not looking at their phone, not taking an afternoon siesta – just watching the kids in the pool. Go ahead and take turns if it’s a social gathering, but make sure that the designated adult knows the rules. Better yet, consider hiring a trained lifeguard. While it seems like the more adults who around, the better. But the reality is that it seems to be the opposite – everyone thinks someone else is wathcing. Make hiring a lifeguard a part of your pool-party budget.

Jessica also wanted to remind folks that floaties are toys and not safety devices. If you have a life vest, they need to be the right size, and they are not a substitute for adult supervision.

“B” is for Barrier

Yes, even with an above-ground temporary pool that you picked up for $75 you want a barrier. It can be mesh; it just has to be at least 5 feet tall and have a self-latching gate. Even if your kids are over the age of 6, what about the neighbors or the grandkids? Make sure the barrier isn’t compromised – there aren’t any chairs or trash cans that can be dragged over to act as a ladder, and that nobody props open the gate.

“C” is for Classes

Tucson has lots of great options for swim classes including Vest it Up!  TMC for Children and Credit Unions for Kids offer FREE year-round swim lessons at dates, times and locations that meet the needs of busy families. These free lessons are at local YMCA locations and include a free personal flatation device, or PFD. This U.S. Coast Guard-approved life vest for kids is provided to kids completing swim classes. The free classes are available to the first 400 kids each year between 4-17 years old.  Register here for Vest it Up!

I have a few additional thoughts:

Having a party? Hire a lifeguard.

It seems like the more adults are around to watch the better right? But in reality it seems to work in the opposite way. Everyone thinks someone else is watching. Make hiring a lifeguard part of your pool party budget.

It’s not just pools and it’s not just summer time

We worry especially in the summer when kids are in the pool, but be vigilant all year. Empty the cooler of melted ice water, dispose of the bucket of mop water, drain the bathtub (and never leave your baby, toddler or preschooler in the bathtub unsupervised.) Unfortunately, we see all these drowning scenarios in the emergency department.

Eyes peeled

Whether it is in the pool, the ocean or the bathtub you will not hear your child drowning. Drowning is a silent affair…keep your eyes on your child.

Hope your summer is splashing good fun.

Stay safe,
Melissa

P.S. Did you know that the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona provides pool safety checks? Request one here 

Melissa HodgesPediatric Emergency Notes from Melissa
Melissa Hodges is a pediatric emergency room RN and mom to two young boys. Melissa has been at Tucson Medical Center for 10 years. She is a knitting ninja apprentice who makes a mean chili and enjoys spending time with her family and friends in beautiful Tucson, Arizona.

Deck the Halls Safely – with Safe Kids Coordinator Jessica Mitchell

Finally, the temperatures have cooled enough that there is the tiniest bite in the air that signals our desert winter. I love this time of year, surrounding myself with family and making memories for my children. In our house we’re putting up the tree, lighting candles and baking cookies. It smells like vanilla and pine and all things wintertime.

Of course, along with all the delights of the season there are some safety concerns:

  1. Candles
    Those pine-scented candles I love so much are a burn risk. I make sure to have them at least 12 inches from any flammable material, and because I have young children, out of their reach. When you leave a room you blow out any candles. I also have a set routine every night of checking to make sure I haven’t forgotten any candles.
  2. Decorations – Kid-friendly
    They’re shiny and glittery and just shout ‘Touch me!’ Watch out for baubles that break easily when you have young children around. Kids are curious and will want to play with the ornaments on the tree, so you might as well prepare. Move the ornaments that are breakable or have metal hooks towards the top of the tree. That makes room at the bottom for the ones that are safer for young kids.
  3. Lights – Cords
    Stringed lights mean extra cords. Make sure cords are taped down to reduce trip risks. Also, make sure that you’re not overburdening the sockets and creating a fire risk. Check that your lights are in good working condition with no frayed or exposed wires or loose bulb connections.
  4. Tree
    If your family brings a pine tree inside at this time of year there are a few things you can do to lower the risk of fire. Make sure you keep the tree watered on a daily basis so that the needles don’t dry out. Is your tree located at least several feet from any heat source, including heating vents and lights as well as candles and fireplaces? Always turn the lights off on the tree when you go to bed or leave the house. When the season is done make sure your tree is disposed off. A dried out tree on your property is a fire risk.
  5. Smoke alarms
    Make sure you have checked your smoke alarms recently and the batteries are working. If the alarms are more than 10 years old they’ve probably expired, and it’s time to replace them.

Have a happy, healthy and safe holiday season,

Jessica

Jessica and family celebrating the holidays

Jessica Mitchell is the Safe Kids Pima County program coordinator. Safe Kids Pima County is a network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury, a leading killer of children aged 19 and under.

Spearheaded by Tucson Medical Center, the local coalition is part of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of more than 600 coalitions in 23 countries bringing together health and safety experts, educators, corporations, foundations, governments and volunteers to educate and protect families.

 For more tips on keeping your family safe all year round

check out our website

 

Halloween Safety Tips from Jessica Mitchell, Safe Kids Pima County

I love celebrating Halloween with my family, but I must admit I feel like I’m holding my breath all evening. Like many Tucson neighborhoods, ours has few street lights and on Oct. 31, kids are EVERYWHERE, often in dark costumes, often zigzagging across the roads to trick or treat. It’s a safety nightmare! Did you know that children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year?

We try to watch where we are going, watch where our little ones are and watch for cars all at the same time. It can be really tough. I give my kids glow sticks to help them be seen by others, including drivers of cars. An added bonus, they think glow sticks are the coolest things ever!

What can you do to make Halloween safer this year for your children?

  1. When selecting a costume make sure it is the right size to prevent trips and falls.
  2. Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors.
  3. Since masks can sometimes obstruct a child’s vision, try nontoxic face paint and makeup whenever possible.
  4. Have kids use glow sticks or flashlights to help them see and be seen by drivers.
  5. Children under the age of 12 should not be alone at night without adult supervision. If kids are mature enough to be out without supervision, remind them to stick to familiar areas that are well lit and trick-or-treat in groups.
  6. Popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. so be especially alert for kids during those hours.

Plan ahead and keep your little ghouls and goblins safe and sound this Halloween,

Jessica

Jessica Mitchell is the Safe Kids Pima County program coordinator. Safe Kids Pima County is a network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury, a leading killer of children aged 19 and under. Spearheaded by Tucson Medical Center, the local coalition is part of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of more than 600 coalitions in 23 countries bringing together health and safety experts, educators, corporations, foundations, governments and volunteers to educate and protect families.

These halloween revelers need a few glow sticks and then theyll really be shining.

Temps are rising and the pool is beckoning – do you know your water safety?

Pool Safety 3Is it hot enough yet? With Tucson temperatures exceeding 115 degrees for three straight days, many families will be heading for the pool this weekend.

It’s no surprise why swimming is a summer favorite. Parents get a chance to cool-off, kids max out on fun and families make memories.

With the summertime exuberance of visiting, splashing and playing, it can be easy for all to forget important safety rules. This is serious because Arizona has the second highest number of child drownings in the United States.

Child drowning is tragic but preventable. Safe Kids Pima County Coordinator Jessica Mitchell works with community partners to provide helpful tips and education to prevent childhood drowning. She provided us important water safety standards every
parent should know.

It’s as easy as ABC

A = Adult supervision B = Barriers around pools, spas and hot tubs C = Coast Guard approved life vest and life-saving CPR classes

My kids love playing in the pool – what are the things to watch out for?

  • Active supervision is a must. Provide active supervision without any distractions – even if other adults are present and many kids are in the pool. They call drowning the “silent killer” because a drowning child can’t call for help.
  • Infants and toddlers should stay within an arm’s reach of an adult.
  • Don’t rely on swimming aids such as water wings and pool noodles. They are fun, but may not prevent drowning.
  • When finished, remove all toys from the pool. This can tempt children to go for the toys later, increasing the risk of them falling in and drowning.
  • Barriers should be in place to keep children from entering the pool on their own. Alarms on doors and pool fences with self-closing gates also helps to keep kids safe.
  • Always keep a phone nearby so that you can call 911 in the case of an emergency.
  • Empty kiddie pools and turn them upside down when finished. Tragedies have happened in just a few inches of water.

Pool Safety 2
What swimming rules should I set for my children?

  • Only swim if an adult is a present.
  • Do not dive in shallow areas of the pool (or the entire pool if it is not deep enough for diving).
  • Don’t push or jump on others.
  • Don’t go swimming during thunder/lightning storms.

My kids have already taken swimming lessons, so I probably don’t need to watch them as much, right?

While we encourage swimming lessons, children should not be swimming alone even if they are good swimmers. It takes multiple lessons before a child learns how to swim effectively and even then, there should still be active supervision by an adult.

How do I rescue a child I think might be drowning?

  • Take the child out of the water
  • If you are alone, call 911 and begin CPR. Starting CPR immediately is the most important thing you can do to prevent a child from dying.
  • If you are not alone, begin CPR and ask someone to call 911.
  • Check for breathing and responsiveness. Place your ear near the child’s mouth and nose to see if you feel air on your cheek? Determine if the child’s chest is moving and call the child’s name to see if he or she responds.

Should I be CPR certified?

Anyone who routinely supervises children around water should get CPR certified. The certification courses are provided by many community organizations, including the American Red Cross.

It sounds like there is a lot to prepare for – can the water still be safe and fun for my family?

Absolutely! Swimming can be great family fun. Make sure you take the necessary precautions, always supervise swimming children and that someone in the family has taken CPR classes.

Visit our website for more safety tips and information.

 

 


Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461