Memorial Day weekend is approaching, signaling the start of pool season for many local aquatic centers.
Whether visiting a public pool or using a private one, public health officials recommend staying alert with children in the water and practicing water safety skills, including learning to swim.
“We highly recommend you teach your kids to swim,” said Bryan Lemons, a registered environmental health specialist with Public Health - Dayton and Montgomery County. “Make sure you feel confident when you get into the water.”
Even if lifeguards are on duty, they cannot watch every child, Lemons said.
“When you’re here, pay attention to your children, don’t just rely on a life guard to do that,” Lemons said.
In the U.S., more children ages 1–4 die from drowning than any other cause of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control. For children ages 5–14, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death after motor vehicle crashes.
Every year in the U.S. there are an estimated 4,000 fatal unintentional drownings—which is an average of 11 drowning deaths per day—and 8,000 nonfatal drownings, the CDC said.
Drownings can happen within 20 seconds, Public Health said, and they can also occur even within just a few inches of water.
There were 11 fatal drownings involving Montgomery County residents in 2021, including seven under the age of 18, according to Public Health. In 2022, preliminary figures showed four drowning deaths involving county residents. That data is only reflective of which county those victims were from, but not the location where the drowning took place.
Since January 2021, there have been four accidental deaths due to drowning among Greene County residents, according to Greene County Public Health. Two of the fatal drownings were related to a bath or hot tub, and two related to a pool or pond.
Between 2018-2022, Clark County averaged 3.4 accidental drowning deaths per year, according to the Clark County Combined Health District. Data from 2021 and 2022 are considered partial and may be incomplete.
Pool safety is also about making sure the water does not get contaminated, so people who are not feeling well should stay home.
“If you’re sick, if you have diarrhea, we want you to stay out of the water,” Lemons said.
Water can make people just as sick as contaminated food, so Public Health inspects over 330 licensed pools in the Montgomery County area about every two weeks during the summer months to check chlorine and pH levels. Chlorine can disinfect the water, while a safe pH level can protect swimmers bodies. If the water pH is too high, swimmers are at risk of getting skin irritation, while a pH that is too low can sting swimmers’ eyes.
Water safety tips
Stay close and be alert:
- Always watch children and never leave them unattended.
- Keep children away from pool drains, pipes, and other openings.
- Have a charged phone close by at all times.
- If a child is missing, check the pool first.
Learn water safety skills:
- Learn to swim and make sure kids do, too.
- Know how to perform CPR on children and adults.
Have the appropriate equipment:
- Install a fence of at least four feet in height around the perimeter of the pool or spa.
- Use self-closing and self-latching gates.
- Ensure all pools and spas have compliant drain covers.
- Install an alarm on the door leading from the house to the pool.
- Keep pool and spa covers in working order.
- Have life-saving equipment such as life rings or reaching poles available for use.