Summer vacation is here: Be vigilant near backyard pools

PASCO, Wash. -- Summer break has finally arrived for thousands of kids around our region, and many will be heading to backyard pools to cool off. But parents and kids should be cautious around pools.

Drowning is the number one cause of unintentional death for children between the ages of 1 and 4. Over the weekend the 19-month-old daughter of Olympic skier Bode Miller tragically drown in a backyard pool.

Local water rescuer Mark Allen says it happens too often, and a child can drown in 20 seconds.

"It's silent and quiet and you're not going to hear anything and they're not going to be able to splash, especially an infant," said Allen.

He said for kids who can't swim, parents should be in the pool with them, no further than arms length. Older kids should swim with buddies, and need to be supervised by a designated adult.

"You don't go in, you don't answer the phone because we all know what happens when you get on the phone you take your eye away and it only takes 20 seconds for them to drown and they hit their head or they fall in so you want to be within arms length of them all the time, you want to be supervising them all the time."

Allen said pools, even above ground pools, need to meet local code that requires a fence around the yard and/or the pool. He said if a child goes missing, the pool is the first place you should look.

"If your child's missing the first place you go is outdoors if you have a swimming pool or your neighbors have a swimming pool you go there to make sure the children aren't in those," said Allen.

He recommends you keep noodles and other floatation devices nearby to help a swimmer in distress, and make sure little ones are in life jackets or floaties; not the older version that just went over the upper arm, but the newer ones that latch around the chest.

"All the floatation is to the chest so when you get in the water it's going to keep you chest up so you can breathe, your face is out of the water," says Allen.

All of these things can help prevent a tragedy, but nothing replaces constant vigilance and supervision near a backyard pool.

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