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As You Prepare To Open The Pool Remember: Risks Are High, But A Safe Backyard Pool Is Much More Fun

As You Prepare To Open The Pool Remember: Risks Are High, But A Safe Backyard Pool Is Much More Fun

As You Prepare To Open The Pool Remember: Risks Are High, But A Safe Backyard Pool Is Much More Fun

May 25, 2010 – The minute you walk away from the backyard pool for a fresh towel, a cold drink, or to answer the phone may be the minute you regret for the rest of your life. Each year nearly 300 children under the age of five drown in residential and public pools and hot tubs. According to Dr. Sergey Kunkov, Director of Stony Brook University Medical Center’s new Pediatric Emergency Department, approximately 75% of child drownings occur because of a lapse of adult supervision of less than five minutes. According to Dr. Kunkov, “with a few significant changes and a more keen sense of awareness we can enjoy spending time at the pool with our children and their friends while avoiding the dangers that often lead to a trip to the emergency room.”

With summer rapidly approaching and pools quickly opening, Dr. Kunkov offers some precautionary tips. To start, don’t let the children into the pool area until an adult is completely ready to focus and have everything necessary at hand. For example, a cordless phone, plenty of towels, refreshments and rescue equipment (e.g. a shepherd’s hook or life preserver) should eliminate distractions and the need to walk away from the pool area. In addition, Dr. Kunkov recommends that parents contact their local Red Cross or the hospital to find out more about CPR and first aid training. According to the National Safety Council, an estimated 5,000 children ages 14 and under are hospitalized due to unintentional drowning related incidents each year.  The irony is that these incidents are preventable by employing some simple safety measures.

Dr. Kunkov suggests following the American Academy of Pediatrics and Consumer Products and Safety Commission’s guidelines for a safe poolside summer:

·    Your pool has to have a 4-sided fence at least 4 ft high, with the gate latch higher than the child’s reach;

·    Since every second counts, always look for a missing child in the pool first. Precious time is often wasted looking for missing children anywhere but in the pool;

·    Don’t leave toys and floats in the pool that can attract young children and cause them to fall in the water when they reach for the items;

·    Inspect pools and spas for missing or broken drain covers; 

·    Do not allow children in a pool or spa with missing/broken covers. Inserting an arm or leg into the opening can result in powerful suction and total body submersion/drowning;

·    For above-ground and inflatable pools with ladders, remove or secure the ladder when the pool is not in use;

·    It is important to always be prepared for an emergency by having rescue equipment and a phone near the pool. Parents should learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)’

·    Keep children younger than 5 years within your arm’s reach whenever you’re at the poolside; 

·    Do not used inflatable swimming aids (“floaties”) as a substitute for a life vest; and,

·    Even if your kids are taking swimming lessons ( and that’s good!) they still need to be supervised when they are in or around the pool.

Dr. Kunkov and the team of physicians and nurses in the Pediatric Emergency Department at Stony Brook University Hospital are specially trained to treat young patients and accommodate their families. The Pediatric ED is designed with private treatment rooms, child-sized equipment, gowns, IVs, airway management tools, and other medical necessities. For more information contact Stony Brook University Medical Center HealthConnect® at 631-444-4000 or on the web at

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