Get to know the ABCDs of pool safety

In the time it takes to turn and take a sip from a cold beverage, about 10 seconds, or take a quick trip to the bathroom, four to six minutes, a child can begin to drown when left unattended in a backyard pool.

Within the minute without air, brain damage can occur, which is why local firefighters are determined to get the message to parents and guardians of little swimmers that pool safety should be a top priority for summer fun.

To bring awareness to valley residents, the city of Henderson and Las Vegas firefighters, in collaboration with the American Red Cross Southern Nevada Chapter, launched the “Safe Pools Rule!” campaign last month at the Henderson Multigenerational Center Activity Pool.

The “Safe Pools Rule!” campaign began with a massive walk-and-knock effort where firefighters distributed door hangers throughout valley neighborhoods on the ABCD method of drowning prevention:

  • A — Adult Supervision
  • B — Barriers
  • C — Classes
  • D — Devices

Putting up secure fences, constant adult supervision with no texting or other seemingly insignificant distractions, being CPR educated and having lifesaving devices available, such as a shepherd’s hook and foam ring, can make a difference between a call to 911 or a brief scare.

The 5-year-old communitywide safety outreach campaign by local firefighters addresses drowning, which is a leading cause of accidental death for children 1 to 4 years of age and second for children 5 to 14 years old, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s annual submersion report.

“It is through heavy community involvement, continuous grass-roots initiatives and dedication to spreading this awareness message that we have been able to help prevent these tragedies from occurring,” Dan Pentkowski, president of Henderson Firefighters, said. “We are proud to raise awareness on prevention, as we believe that zero drownings is the only solution.”

For the first time, firefighters across the valley have joined in their annual efforts to prevent this ongoing summer hazard for children.

“The Las Vegas Firefighters are proud to partner with the Henderson Firefighters in this safety outreach program, and to spread awareness on drowning prevention through the A, B, C and D’s of drowning prevention,” Scott Johnson, president of Las Vegas Firefighters, said. “It is our goal to expand the reach of this campaign across Southern Nevada through door hanger distribution to communities across the valley. It is our hope that the continuous reinforcement of water safety through our ‘Safe Pools Rule!’ campaign will ultimately lead to saving lives.”

Children should never be left unsupervised, not even for a quick trip to the bathroom or the seconds it takes to text a message to friends. The worst time of day for drownings is between 2 and 8 p.m., when the majority of drowning deaths occur in the family pool, according to the Southern Nevada Drowning Prevention Coalition. Removing elevated objects, such as chairs, tables and blow up toys from the pool area can prohibit a child from climbing over barriers and fences and inadvertently falling into a pool.

The American Red Cross urges local residents to take advantage of the many CPR classes that the organization holds throughout the year at hospitals, clinics and community centers.

If you are looking to partake of the pools in Clark County, there are a few rules to remember. Children under 8 years old must be accompanied by an adult 18 years of age or older, who also must be in the water within arms reach of the child at all times. The health district insists that all swimmers wear only swimwear, so ditch the jeans, oversized T-shirts and basketball shorts.