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    Swimming Pool Safety: More Than Fun In The Sun

     (SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.)  Look at it this way: Swimming pools are 14 times more likely than motor vehicles to be the cause of deaths of children four and under, according to the Orange County Fire Authority. 

    The Center for Disease Control says three of 10 people who drown are younger than five years old.

    But drowning deaths are not just limited to small children.  According to the Center For Disease Control, there are about 411 senior drowning deaths every year nationwide. Eight out of 10 of the victims were between the ages of 65-84 and about two out of 10 were 85 or over.

    Seniors can over exercise and quickly become more tired than they think they are.  “If that happens in the deep end of the pool tragedy can happen,” said Dr. Albert Arteaga, president of LaSalle Medical Associates.

    The Consumer Products Agency says that approximately 260 children under the age of five years old drown in America’s pools every year.  On top of that, they estimate there to be nearly 3,000 Emergency Department-treated pool injuries to children under five years old annually.

    Yet, think of a home with a pool and what comes to mind but serenity, beauty and fun.

    “Swimming pools can be deceptive,” notes Barbara Graber, the Audit & Education Coordinator for LaSalle Medical Associates. “We can forget just how potentially dangerous they can be, especially to very young children and seniors.”

    As we enter spring and it gets warmer, then hotter into summer, it becomes Southern California’s “pool season”. Graber, who’s been with LaSalle for almost 10 years, knows what that means to families.

    “Our Clinic Safety Committee has each of our four clinics display posters listing tips for pool safety awareness.”

    Recommendations include:
           Designate a responsible adult to watch young children and seniors while swimming or playing in or around water.
           Adults should not be involved in any other distracting activity (such as reading, playing cards, talking on the phone, or mowing the lawn) while supervising children.
           Never let older children be in charge of younger children in the pool area.

           Put a fence around your pool or spa with a gate that can be locked. Keep the gate closed and locked.

           Never swim alone no matter what your age.  Always have an adult buddy there to help in an emergency.

           Don’t keep furniture near the fence, because children can climb on them and get over the fence.

           Keep a cordless, water-resistant phone in the pool area so calls to 911 can be quickly made in the event of an emergency.

           Avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming or using a hot tub. Do not drink alcohol while supervising children.

    While most attention regarding swimming pool danger centers around drowning accidents, another danger, especially during the upcoming hot, sunny days, is the sun.

    “More time in the pool,” says Graber, “means more time in the sun, and the sun can cause serious sunburns,” even possibly leading to various levels of skin cancer later in life.

    There are nearly nine million private pools in America, says Market Research.com.  So most of us, naturally, don’t know a family that has experienced a pool-related death.

    In the United States there are 1.6 drowning deaths of children per million population.
    According to the World Health Organization, America ranks as high as 4th in pool deaths per million, behind the Bahamas, Malta and Cuba, yet ahead of Australia, 9th, Canada, 19th, and Mexico, 31st.

    Many people feel a certain sense of safety in avoiding private swimming pools altogether in favor of taking their families to public facilities with lifeguards, yet, experts say, this can cause a certain relaxation in parental alertness and concern.

    After all, public pools have all the safeguards in place, and lifeguards are trained in spotting water problems, rescuing swimmers in trouble and immediately administering emergency aid.

    However, the Drowning Prevention Foundation has pointed out that fully one of every five drowning deaths of America’s children occur in public pools with lifeguards in attendance.

    “Public pools are more crowded than home pools, naturally,” notes a spokesman, “so the numbers of swimmers per lifeguard can become alarming on hot days, especially weekends and summer vacations.”

    “It’s for reasons like this,” says LaSalle’s founder Dr. Albert Arteaga, “we all must stay attuned and alert to swimming pool and spa safety issues, knowing how to prevent problems and what to do if something still goes wrong.”

    Pick us a free pool safety poster that included these important safety tips for children and seniors at any of LaSalle’s Inland Empire clinics. Two are in San Bernardino at 1505 West 17th Street and 565 North Mt. Vernon Avenue, the Fontana facility at 17577 Arrow Boulevard and Hesperia’s at 16455 Main Street.

    For more information or to make an appointment, call (909) 890-0407.

    About LaSalle Medical Associates
    LaSalle’s philosophy is that everyone deserves quality health care, and to be treated by his or her physician with dignity and respect. LaSalle Medical Associate clinics welcome low income, elderly and disabled patients. They accept most insurance.

    LaSalle has four Inland Empire clinics. Two are in San Bernardino at 1505 West 17th Street and 565 North Mt. Vernon Avenue, the Fontana facility at 17577 Arrow Boulevard and Hesperia’s at 16455 Main Street.


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