Splash into Safety: Swimming tips during pool and open water season

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Madeline Olivia Hall and Dax Corbin Hall swimming in the Sandy Basin Community Pool at Fort Irwin.

FORT IRWIN, Calif.  Summer is heating up fast and with the triple-digit temperatures comes more time for swimming pools, beaches, lakes, and rivers. Unfortunately, this also makes it one of the most hazardous times of year for drownings, especially for young children.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every day, about ten people die from an unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children ages 14 years old or younger. Drowning also ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury deaths in the United States.”

Fort Irwin is the home to a Community Pool, Splash Park and Oasis indoor pool (also known as the Troop Pool).

Although it’s water season, before you head out there with the family, there are some things The Villages Community Center says swimmers should think about. Firstly, the Fort Irwin Community Pool is not under lifeguard supervision. Patrons swim at their own risk. Also, children under 14 years of age must be accompanied by an adult at all times. A 9-1-1 telephone is located on the premises for emergency use and there is a Villages attendant at the pool, although they are present to enforce the rules, not for a focus on safety. One family talked about their experiences at the Community Pool.

“We feel safe, even without a lifeguard on duty,” Staff Sgt. Pricilla Hall said. “The pool is pretty shallow, and my kids can swim, and they don’t go in (the pool) without a parent.”

Dax Hall is Staff Sgt. Hall’s seven-year-old son and he said he enjoys playing water games. “I like swimming under water, and diving for torpedoes (dive sticks),” Dax said. However, his eight-year-old sister, Madeline Hall, prefers to perfect her hand stand and back-flipping skills in the pool.

Some swimming tips from the American Red Cross (for any bodies of water) include designating a water watcher and staying in arm’s reach of young children.

“Preventable injuries are the number one killer of children in the United States,” Kim Garcia from Post Safety said. “Throughout the world, almost one million children die of an injury each year and almost every one of these tragedies are preventable.”

Garcia said it’s imperative kids know the difference between swimming in a pool and open water. It’s also important to teach kids about open water, currents, and undertows. Knowing basic lifesaving skills and CPR is a plus.

“Families can look forward to swim lessons for their young ones come August,” Matthew Livingston, Chief of Sports Fitness and Aquatics said. “Parents can watch for classes to be posted at Parent Central after PCS (permanent change of station) season.”

For more information regarding water safety, or CPR classes, please visit RedCross.org or Safekids.org

Hard Facts about Swimming Safety (SafeKids.org)

• Among preventable injuries, drowning is the leading cause of death for children 1 – 4 years old

• Children 5 years and older are more likely to drown in natural water, such as ponds, lakes and rivers.

• The risk of drowning in open water increases with age: the average 10-year-old, for example, is three times more likely to drown in open water than in a pool