Another Hidden Danger in Your Backyard

To a skittish parent with a track record of peril in the home, like me, anything and everything is potentially dangerous to your offspring. You have to be vigilant day one. You childproof your home when the kids are tots, checking to be sure there are no toxic products under any sink. Cupboards have special closures that cannot be tampered with and scary devices like mixers that attach tiny fingers vacuum cleaners (that bite little toes). Of course, the stove and toaster are off limits as they like to show their power and burn intruders. The fridge seems to be the one safe place.

When I had my babies, I scrutinized every nook and cranny of the house and garage and kept watch over diminutive walkers who can wander in the blink of an eye. I asked for suggestions on Facebook, and with that, outlets were covered, small objects that can be eaten were hidden, and breakables were quickly stowed in the attic. When the kids were a bit older, we agreed to have a backyard pool, but after my son almost drowned, I regretted the decision to the bottom of my heart. Even having the mandatory fence did not help. There are ways that kids can get access to forbidden places. Kids can also go under water when you are right there as surrogate lifeguard. It happens that fast.

One thing most parents forget about in the yard are garden tools that children can step on such as a rake. There are a myriad of evils, especially that trampoline you bought for exercise that threatens from one corner. Most people don’t surround them with an ugly fence of the chain link variety. Imagine having both your pool and trampoline look like they are in prison. However, a trampoline is not always perfectly safe for anyone, child or adult, if they don’t know the rules. Anyone acquiring a new device needs to have a family meeting to go over safety measures. They will understand that it is for their own good. Start with the following ideas from Trampoline Choice:

  • Never jump alone if you do not have prior experience. You must learn about proper techniques for basic “tricks” before executing something difficult such as a somersault or flip.
  • Children and adults can fall off a trampoline and hit their heads on something nearby. Placing the unit in a safe open space is a must.
  • Anyone trying fancy stuff needs a spotter at first until the advanced moves are mastered.
  • Don’t do any double jumping with a rambunctious child that likes to shove and push.
  • Cover any hard surfaces such as the trampoline rim, especially any metal.
  • Check that your trampoline is in good working order and that all attachments are secure. You don’t want it to suddenly break in the middle of a practice session.
  • For kids’ parties, trampolines are magic, but you need the guests to take turns to avoid fighting.

A Different Kind of Water Danger

A friend has been thinking of moving to a home in my neighborhood. She knows that I find it to be family-oriented and safe. This is important to her as she has kids. As with me, they are her first priority. She had been waiting a long time to find a property for sale and jumped at the chance. The house is right down the street and our children could have frequent playdates. We could alternate the location. It would be perfect for both of us. There was a hitch that ruined our initial excitement. The house did not pass the required homeowner’s inspection. It wasn’t the roof or the foundation. It wasn’t faulty wiring or termites. It was water quality problems due to old galvanized pipes. If my friend were to make an offer, the seller would have to make significant changes—a complete overhaul of the plumping and an installation of copper pipes. She wasn’t about to put up with polluted brown tap water. Not for a second.

Water purity is a big issue for a family and I hadn’t given it much thought until this happened. I want the best for my family and am now turning my attention to filtering systems. There is potential water danger lurking around the corner, and it isn‘t from our swimming pool. In this blog, I have discussed this more than once. I am eager for my husband to install a reverse osmosis system as I have read on Home Water Health that this is the optimal choice. They give you fresh crisp water on demand. It is too late to repipe the house so this is the necessary solution, no matter the cost.

The best systems are a couple hundred dollars and are efficient and reliable. We can get up to fifty gallons of pure clean water every day. No more expense for bottled water. These systems rival the taste. Just do a test. They are easy to install with quick connect fittings. Most do not require much maintenance. We chose the most popular system with the best customer reviews. It was important for the system to have high marks for contaminant rejection.

My friend even got on the bandwagon and is considering a system for her new home. I also made the project a science lesson for the kids (and me). We talked about water purification methods such as reverse osmosis that use a membrane to remove undesirable elements. Pressure is the purification technology in question. By means of the membrane, we can remove various pollutants such as bacteria and toxic chemicals that are suspended in water. Large molecules are not able to pass through the holes in the membrane.

The outcome is positive, I have to report. Our water is fantastic – pure and fresh tasting – for pennies, not dollars, a day. Bottled water used to fill the fridge to the brim; but not anymore. We have our own containers that are spill proof and ready to go on the road.

Making Necessary Changes

Recently, I have been waking up every morning with neck pain, and it stays all day long. I went to the doctor to find out what it could be because it is interfering in her daily life. He said that it is a common problem for active people, especially with young children. I discovered that the remedy other than aspirin is to make some changes in my life if I want the pain to get better or stop.

Neck pain can come from spinal injuries, some of which you might not be aware. You might exert yourself in the gym and pull a muscle. Other times you might have a pinched nerve from sleeping in a strange position. Of course, a common cause is an auto accident. I reviewed my life and most of my tasks revolve around the kids. I asked myself: how many times a day do you pick up a little one and how often do you bend over for long periods of time to clean up toys or another mess? I also asked myself when I first noticed back and neck pain and it was rather recent. What did I do to cause the current problem?

I don’t remember falling off my bicycle, straining at some formidable machine in the gym, bending over my phone on Facebook, or twisting my neck while sleeping or performing household cleaning tasks. It was a mystery that I would like to solve so I can do something to prevent it next time. Meanwhile, I get a lot of massages, take hot baths, and visit the sauna at the spa. At first the neck massage hurt, but in the end I knew it was doing a lot of good. Each time thereafter, it was less painful and I could tolerate more vigorous moves. This served as my physical therapy so that I wouldn’t have to wear an ugly neck brace. My doctor explained that keeping the head still works for some people with severe neck injuries, but would not be that beneficial in my case.

I was concerned when the pain in my neck seemed to be spreading to my shoulders. It hurt to sit upright in my desk chair. The masseuse attacked this area with vigor employing “deep tissue” massage. It was in stark contrast to what he did with my neck. His figures would start at the base and move upward in repetitive strokes. Gentle pressure turned to moderate then intense. He made me turn my head side to side and then do a rolling motion, making a complete rotation in both directions. The entire session was very effective, did not cause undue discomfort, and resulted in a relaxed state. I was so relaxed, in fact, that I feel asleep as soon as my head touched my pillow. I had a deep sleep and woke up very refreshed. I can’t say enough for massage therapy. The professional masseur has magical gifts.

My Son’s Love of Soccer

I love to help my son with schoolwork. It gives us personal time together. When he was recently assigned to write a report for school, I suggested something to do with his favorite sport of soccer. He likes to play and also watch matches on TV. This is going to be a hobby for life. Writing about the game would be a way to really get into the project and I could help. Reading about the game online, I became fascinated with the history of the ball itself after finding a piece about it from Top Corner Mag. It was clear that every culture from the beginning it seems had some kind of object to kick around for recreation and play. I don’t know how it is known, but the South American Indians had a light, elasticized ball. It would take several thousand years for rubber to be invented. Imagine!

My son read all the historical legends and was taken with some of the suggestions about what the early balls were like. Animal heads (and possibly human skulls?), stitched heavy cloth, and pig or cow bladders were common. He just couldn’t get over this. His little eyes grew wide with amazement. In other areas of the world, the Chinese were said to enjoy a game of “tsu chu,” in which animal-skin balls were dribbled about and send through holes in a stretched net. The Egyptians got in the picture with a kind of football while later the ancient Greeks and Romans had their version of kicking a ball. To round out the early history, medieval used a skull to propel down a path using the feet. There were village rivalries before spectators in the town square. Some say this is the first location of soccer riots. Ha!

Also during the Middles Ages, pig bladders from killed livestock (for food), were used to make an inflated ball. Both the hands and feet were used to keep the ball in the air. It wasn’t long for some ingenious inventor to cover the bladder balls with leather to create a round shape. We get into the modern era of soccer in the 19th century at which time Charles Goodyear patented vulcanized rubber. Now balls could be uniform in size and not reflective of the size of a pig’s bladder. This made kicking a ball more predictable. The English Football Association hammered out the rules for soccer in 1853 setting the size of the ball. Finally, in the early 20th century, rubber bladders were the norm with tanned leather covers for easy bouncing. In 1951 the white ball was permitted so spectators could see it better while in play even with floodlights.

Getting into the later history of the soccer ball, my son wrote about synthetic innovations and the various kinds now available and all the top-tier brands. They all meet international requirements. He was reluctant to put down his pencil at the end of the last chapter. As a school project, it had actually been fun.

I’m not Ready

Because my son nearly drowned several years ago, I am paranoid about letting him swim in another family’s pool, even people I know. If I am at home, I can be in the water if not very nearby. I watch him like a hawk although by now he has learned how to swim. He can even dive from the side of our pool. Nonetheless, I have been apprehensive about Ian attending a pool party in a friend’s backyard. I don’t let him go to the community pool as a rule. It is too chaotic. He would be heartbroken if he had to miss the festivities and all the kids have been talking about it. He is pretty excited. I must give in.

I found out as much as I could about the pool including its size and location. Who will be present acting as the adult lifeguard I dutifully asked? I even checked out the other guests and what food would be served, so what could go wrong? Well something did because Ian came home less than elated. He loved the pool and the way it had been heated to a very nice temperature due to the gas tankless water heater installed by the house. You can see photos of them at I have heard that they are wonderful at their job and save homeowners on energy and water usage. This means something when you have a pool. I asked Ian what went on and he described the horseplay and constant splashing. There were so many kids in the water that he couldn’t show off how he could swim. Once he was dunked by a rambunctious older child which caused him to panic. This should not have been allowed.

I called the parents and berated them for letting a known bully attend. They should have noted his behavior right from the start. Ian was frightened and wanted to go home even before eating his hamburger. He apparently was not ready for this event despite his initial excitement. I felt very bad for the little guy. Next time, I will make sure no one rough houses with you, I said gently. But would there be a next time? I didn’t count on it at that moment. Kids go through so much in their young lives – so many trials and tribulations. Swimming in a backyard pool, however, shouldn’t be one of them. A nice social opportunity turned sour because of one incident.

The parents apologized a million times and invited both Ian and me over for a reprise of the pool party. The bully would not be present of course. I refused and explained that it was too soon. Given the near drowning in my child’s early life, it would have to wait. I don’t want to be overprotective and scar Ian for life, but I have to draw the line somewhere. If I can head off problems in the future, his swimming experience will be so much better.

New Addition to the Family

Take great care at home with your precious little ones. Watch them like a hawk. They can get into so much trouble if you don’t protect them each and every day. Child proofing is a big deal to me given that my son almost drowned a few years ago. Most municipalities require fences around a backyard in-ground pool for good reason. This doesn’t apply to the inflated type, but don’t kid yourself—something can happen here, too.

There are also issues in the house given the number of household cleaning products most families possess. Most have toxic chemicals unless you buy the new green versions which I recommend. Be sure to lock closets (don’t forget the garage) if they do contain any dangerous that could harm a child if it is ingested or turned on, as with an appliance. I know that a vacuum cleaner has crevasses and holes that trap little hands. When on, the suction can inhale little toes. Don’t clean when your child is present so that he will learn inadvertently how to start the machine.

A child’s hands could also be burned in the toaster or caught in the mixer attachments. It is not always about drinking bad stuff. They put their heads in the toilet, looking for frogs, so be sure to keep the lids closed all the time. Every cupboard, nook and cranny contains the possibility for harm. It is as much a problem inside as out. The point here is to keep your eyes open. Teach your older children to do likewise.

Speaking of the vacuum, I have to tell you that it died a miserable death when it became clogged with shedding pet hair from Ian’s new puppy. While the little fellow is adorable and a great companion for my son, he is also a bit messy. The vacuum couldn’t be cleaned as the hairs got stuck in the motor. Now it falls on my shoulders to select a new one, but should it be upright or a canister model? Help me out. What is most cost effective, most compact, and most efficient on any kind of furniture or floor? I don’t know much about it as I inherited the old model. I thought it was going to be guesswork, until I discovered The Vacuum Challenge.

Just considering the dog hair problem, I think I should opt for the canister type as people say they are quite powerful and versatile given all the attachments that come with it. I can use the crevasse tool for the sofa where the pillows meat the back. Doggy hair seems to love this particular spot. I can change to a brush tool for the wood floor to scoop up any debris and others for drapes and carpets. I want an all-around perfect vacuum so it will be the last time I have to splurge. A good vacuum can run up to five hundred dollars, but to justify this expense, they come with 7-year warranties.

Backyard Pool Safety Tip: Motion Sensor Lights

Too many accidents in the backyard pool have been reported and not just in my neighborhood. Near and actual drownings are the bane of a parent’s existence. You can be as careful and vigilant as you want, but the unforeseen is lurking around every corner. Take it from me and do what you can to ward off danger. Summertime is supposed to be full of outdoor fun. It is your job to make it safe for your kids and their friends. I have suffered from a near drowning so I know of what I speak. No one should have to go through this kind of horror. My son was ultimately fine, but there were scary moments. If I sound preachy, it is because I have a mission.

You want the kids to play freely, swimming and splashing about with glee. You serve lemonade and cookies and blast their favorite songs. If you have an outdoor TV, it is tuned into cartoons. Everything is festive and fun. Don’t let a lack of security system harm this special time of the year. First of all, an adult should always be present, preferably in the pool and not attending to other matters. It only takes a second for a child to disappear underwater. There may be no indication or sound. Other kids don’t always notice. This is rule number one.

Rule number two is to obey the local ordinances that require pool owners to have a fence of a particular height. Make sure it is installed by a reputable dealer who knows what is best to deter stray kids, or even your own. You can also prevent this by establishing strict guidelines for pool use. Moving on to rule number three, an alarm system is valuable if you are not at home, or even if you are in the house. It is great if you have a propensity to nod off. Meanwhile, I find motion sensors are the best way to find out if someone, adult or child, is in the pool unbeknownst to you. If these sensors activate an alarm and/or bright light, the message will be loud and clear. The light isn’t limited to strangers; it can alert parents that their children have gone somewhere that they shouldn’t. Installing an outdoor motion sensor light is rather simple – this blog post has all the information you need. I have heard of wayward teens entering a property they believe is unattended (because of a pile of newspapers on the front lawn). Sometimes you only known by the castoff empty beer cans.

There are many reasons to install outdoor motion sensor lights as you can see. It makes owning a pool a much safer prospect. It can eliminate vandals, trespassers, thieves, animals, and rambunctious kids. If it can prevent just one accidental drowning, it will be worth every penny of its cost. Make sure it is in good working order at the beginning of each swimming season. It should hold you in good stead all year long.

Sturdy Pool Fencing

I am all about safety these days given that my precious son almost drowned some time ago. It was a horrendous emotional experience. It made me super alert to every issue that can happen in an ordinary family household. I know that parents are aware of the potential dangers and that they take precautions such as childproofing, putting weapons away in a locked safe, and securing chemical cleaners out of reach.

In terms of promoting swimming safety in the backyard, parents absolutely must install a good fence around any kind of pool. It is beyond safety because it touches legal liability as well. It is furthermore mandated by law. If your fence is rickety and old, it must be repaired without fail. If you can’t do the upkeep yourself, ask the pool man or a neighbor to help. All you need most of the time is a TIG welder (see An experienced welder will know exactly what to do and also bring equipment and supplies. Welding is more permanent than hammered nails so don’t short change the job because you want the easy way out. Hire a pro if you must.

If your fence is metal and wood, be sure to check for wood rot. A wood fence is not common although some homeowners like the appearance better than chain link, which is unattractive. I myself like to see through the fence to check on the kids. Otherwise, you need to be inside by the pool at all times. Once the pool fence is in place, you can rest assured that you have done what you can. It takes constant vigilance.

I assess the kids’ swimming skills regularly and discuss safety matters all the time. Any children who come over as guests must prove to me that they know pool rules and behavior. If they can’t swim or dive to my satisfaction, they must remain in the shallow end. They don’t mind because there is always someone there. If a lot of kids come over for a birthday or holiday, I am in the pool the first thing. Other parents usually join us and we take turns. I have made it clear that a group of swimmers requires attention.

Never let something happen inadvertently. To avoid surprises, think through all the possibilities of harm in your mind and provide satisfactory solutions to each and every one. Talk to your older children so they can help out and re-enforce your safety measures. Above all, be sure that everyone can swim well on their own or with a raft. If children get over excited and start to splash around, it is fine as long as it doesn’t intimidate the really young tots. Make these little ones wear inflated vests. They are cute with images of their favorite TV cartoon characters, and they are always willing to keep them on. Every child, no matter the age, has specific requirements. Safety first is my motto. Make it yours.

All About Life Jackets

People go out of their way to find the safest car seat money can buy and have them professionally installed. They make sure their child does not get on a bike without a properly-fitting helmet. And yet they let their children go into the water without a lifejacket(also known as a Personal Floatation Device or PFD) for all kinds of reasons: Oh, the water isn’t very deep; they’ve got this inflatable raft, that’s the same thing; my child can stand with their head above water.

Let me tell you, being able to keep their head above water is not a foolproof way to prevent drowning. I’ve seen children running through the water and trip, suddenly go under and then start to panic. And even experienced swimmers know that if you get too fatigued, sometimes even keeping your head above the water is going to be incredibly difficult. Inflatables aren’t safe—if the valve pops or it springs a leak, it will deflate and your child could potentially drown.

Let’s face it, things happen, and that can be dangerous when around water. If you’re going to be at an unfamiliar pool or body of water with a strong current, a life jacket just makes sense. If the water level is higher than your child is tall, then a life jacket is a must.And even adults should wear life jackets when boating or participating in water sports, regardless of how strong of a swimmer they might be.Large parties are also a good time to wear one—it can be hard to watch everyone in the pool at once so a life jacket is an extra layer of security. if there are others in the water, they can be a danger as well. Kids roughhouse and sometimes push each other underwater. Or another child who cannot swim may start to panic and grab onto someone else, forcing them under. Most kids can’t support their own weight plus that of someone else who is thrashing around.

I hope by now that I have convinced you that your child should have a life jacket on when they’re in the water, at least in certain circumstances–especially if they are not proficient swimmers. If they cannot swim at all, they absolutely need one. But if you don’t have a life jacket that fits properly, it might not do the wearer any good at all. So, let’s go over what to look for when choosing the right life jacket.First, make sure it is has been approved by the United States Coast Guard for the activities you will be wearing it for. Many have height or weight measurements on them, and that is a good start. Next, try it on and buckle all the straps. The goal is to make sure that it feels snug but not uncomfortably tight. If there’s too much room no matter how tight the straps, go down a size. If it’s too hard to fasten at the largest strap size, go up one. Unless you are moving into a different category (say, from child to youth), a size up or down doesn’t affect the size of the floatation panels, just the length of the straps. If it doesn’t feel right, try a different brand or style until you get that perfect fit. And remember to check it every time you wear it to make sure that the material hasn’t faded and weakened, and that there is no wear and tear on the straps or damage to the clasps.

And there you have it!

Safe Boating Practices

Boating can be a fun and enjoyable activity for everyone in the entire family. Whether you are on a yacht or a canoe, there are steps that you should take to ensure the safety of everyone onboard. Here are some general tips for you to follow so that you can focus on the fun instead of all the potential dangers.

Even if every single person onboard can swim, have lifejackets for everyone aboard. Insist that they are worn. Many of the fatal accidents that involve boating could have been avoided if the person had simply been wearing a life jacket. Make sure that it is Coast Guard approved and in good condition. Different sized boats require other safety gear in addition to life jackets, so be sure to learn what you are responsible for having onboard. These include items like flares, fire extinguishers, and a throwable life preserver, to name a few.

Take a boating course if you are going to be behind the wheel. According to the Coast Guard, 70% of boating accidents are caused by errors and inexperienced boaters. Understand the rules of boating and practice good seamanship. Follow local, state, and federal boating laws regarding things like speed and safety. Be constantly aware of weather conditions, and be vigilant regarding water hazards and other watercraft.

On the other hand, if you are paddling, know your limits. You don’t want to exhaust yourself and then be stuck halfway out into a lake or be stranded far from shore. Start heading back or near the shore if you feel yourself tiring.

Do not mix alcohol and boating. Even if you are not behind the wheel and actively steering, you are near open water. Alcohol will decrease your balance and coordination, your ability to swim to safety if necessary, and it can cause you to bleed more easily in case of an injury. Especially on a smaller craft, if someone loses their balance, they could cause the entire boat to rock or even capsize.

Perform proper maintenance on your boat. If you have a gas powered motor, know where CO may accumulate in and around the boat and why. Install CO alarms. Recognize the signs of CO poisoning, and treat seasickness as potential CO poisoning. Exercise extreme caution near the propellers, and be sure to have someone watching the propeller area around the boat if there are swimmers in the water, or turn off the engine. As the captain, be sure to wear your engine cutoff switch lanyard so that the engine will shut off if you step away.

Regardless of the size of the boat, the nature of the trip, and how long you plan to be gone, prepare a float plan. You can fill out a premade form from the US Coast Guard website, and leave it with a trusted individual not going on the trip with you. It will have all the information they need to notify authorities if you require assistance or if you do not return/check-in as you arrange with your emergency contact. The Coast Guard’s float plan template has all the information you could need to give to search and rescue personnel as well as a chart listing all the steps you should follow if you suspect any trouble.

I hope your boating experience is lots of fun!

The Importance of Swim Lessons

Swimming lessons are important for every child, regardless of whether you have a pool or live near a body of water. You never know when the knowledge can save a life. Now that I have become more vocal about the dangers of drowning, I am hearing more stories about water hazards.

You don’t think that a bathtub with a few inches of water could be fatal, but you’d be wrong. If it is deep enough to cover your mouth and nose, you can drown. Children in a pool surrounded by adults have quietly slipped under the water unnoticed and died, without alerting anyone. It’s scary. Some children, like my Ian, swallow water and can drown later—even overnight after you’ve tucked them into bed. The danger can be even more serious if you have a child with eloping tendencies. You don’t even know they are near the water until it is too late. Even if you are in the water under the watchful eye of a diligent lifeguard, things can—and do—go wrong.

I am sure that this all sounds very scary, and it is. And you should be scared. But know that things are not completely out of your control. If you feel yourself starting to panic reading this post, remind yourself that drowning is preventable. The most important things you can do is get your child swimming lessons.

If you aren’t sure what to look for, start at the American Red Cross site. This is the organization that often certifies lifeguards, so they know their stuff and have certain standards. Find a class that progresses based on skill and not age—you want to be sure your child (or you) have mastered the skills taught at one level before moving on to the next. At the beginning, expect the class to mostly focus on getting comfortable in and around the water. It may seem like a waste of time, but it will help children relax and feel more confident. Basic things everyone should learn: how to float on their front and back, breath control, and arm and leg movements. As their confidence and experience grows, they can learn to tread water and various types of swimming strokes.

While it is easier to learn how to swim in a pool, if there is a body of water near you that you plan on utilizing, it is beneficial to take classes there as well if they are offered. Waves, undertows, riptides, and currents can be overpowering and the more you are taught about how to swim in those types of environments, the better off you will be.

Several important guidelines: never leave your child alone in the water. Even a good swimmer can drown, especially in a large body of water. Either you or an instructor need to be present at all times. Remain alert and pay attention! Teach them not to go in the water without someone watching. Also, if they are wearing a floatation device, it must be a life jacket certified by the US Coast Guard, fitted properly, and checked before and after use for fading, tears, and wear. Do not rely on inflatables, water wings, or even those inflatable swim suits. Even the tiniest leak can cause your child to sink.

It may seem excessive or hypervigilance, but children can drown in such small amounts of water as an inch in 30 seconds or less. In the amount of time it takes you to post that picture online, your child could drown. Please pay attention. Their life could depend on it.

What is Dry and Secondary Drowning?

It scares me just to type those words: dry and secondary drowning. As you may know, this happened to my son Ian. We got him help in time, but I know others who were not as lucky. As hard as it is to write,this post is important. Please, read it and learn the signs so that it never happens to you or someone you love–it can happen to adults, too.

Dry drowning can occur after someone takes in even a small amount of water through their nose or mouth. That is enough to make us choke or cause a spasm in the airway, which causes it to close up. It may become difficult or impossible to breathe. Dry drowning often presents soon after the person ingests water.

Secondary drowning, on the other hand, is when the water gets into the person’s lungs. It isn’t enough for them to drown, but it is enough to cause inflammation and/or swelling that prevents the lungs from working properly. It is no longer able to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide. This process can be slow—there may even be an entire 24 hours’ delay between the incident and severe enough symptoms to cause distress.

Now that you know what they are, here’s the symptoms to look out for:

  • Labored breathing. If their breathing is rapid and/or shallow, it can be a signal that they are not getting enough oxygen. The same goes with flared nostrils. If you can see the gap above their collarbone or the spaces between their ribs, you are seeing labored breathing. Seek medical attention.
  • Chest pain. This symptom could be caused by inflammation in the lungs or as a side effect from coughing or gagging.
  • Coughing. A persistent cough, especially after being around or accidentally swallowing/inhaling water is a warning sign that something might be wrong.
  • Changes in mental alertness.Fatigueas a symptom is hard to isolate, especially if you have been in the sun and water all day. But if the person seems excessively tired, it could be a sign of secondary drowning—their blood may not be getting enough oxygen. Another sign is confusion or forgetfulness. Do not let the person go to sleep unless they have been checked out by a doctor.
  • Dizzinesscan also be a red flag that the body is not getting enough oxygen.
  • Nausea and/or vomiting. Vomiting can be from the inflammation in the lungs, or it can be brought on by coughing or gagging.

Finally, if you have to rescue someone—whether it is an adult or a child—from the water, or if you suspect someone has swallowed or inhaled water (even a small amount) while under duress,they should receive medical attention. Take them to a hospital or urgent care facility so that they can be evaluated and treated. At the minimum, call a doctor and find out if they should be brought in.

In many cases, the symptoms are mild and will gradually improve on their own. But you won’t know that until after a they’ve had a chest x-ray. Other treatments include observation to ensure that airways remain clear and oxygen level monitoring. They may also be required to have a breathing tube to make it easier for their lungs and airway.

Understand that your child is much more likely to drown than suffer from dry or secondary drowning (which are rare). However, since it is less common and much less obvious, it is definitely worth educating yourself about so that you can be vigilant.

Home and Pool Safety

Depending on where you live, there may be laws regarding the safety measures you need to follow when you have a pool or hot tub in your yard. You should check the regulations for your area both before you install a pool and periodically afterward to make sure you stay within the criteria. Small inflatable pools might have these regulations enforced as well, so please be aware. Failure to comply with regulations could leave you liable for any injuries or drownings that occur on your property, whether you were present at the time or not.

Of course, if your area does include small wading and baby pools, you can easily avoid any issues by emptying the pool when it is not in use. Since these types of pools don’t have a filter anyway, this is a good habit to get into regardless of safety issues.

Here are just a few of the typical rules required for above- and in- ground pools and hot tub/jacuzzi owners. I’ve also added other tips to ensure that children (and adults) aren’t tempted to take a dip in your pool without your knowledge and ensure the safety of all:

  • Have the adults and children age 9 and above in your home learn basic CPR skills and how to swim.
  • If you can, prevent the pool or hot tub from being visible from the street, either with privacy fencing or landscaping. When it is not obvious that there even is a pool, you will be less likely to have unwanted guests.
  • Keep hot tubs covered. Pool covers are also good, although be aware that children have been known to try walking on them, then get trapped and drown.
  • Have a separate gate for your pool or hot tub. Keep it locked. An alarm that sounds when the gate is opened or a motion detector are also good deterrents. Some places mandate how tall the fence has to be; your best bet is to ensure that the fence is hard to climb. Don’t leave things near the fence that can be used to assist someone in getting over the fence. That includes landscaping like shrubs or trees, birdbaths, large planters, debris, trash cans, or statuary.
  • Keep the doors and windows that provide access from your home to the pool area locked as well. A child could sneak out the door and be in the water long before you realize what is happening.
  • Have a storage container for pool toys and floating items, and put them away when they are not in use. It is one less thing attracting someone to the water.
  • If you have shallow water, please post “No Diving” signs. If there is a deep end, make sure that there is a marker so that people know where the depth begins to change. Ensure that the depth is clearly marked where swimmers can see it.
  • Teach children to stay away from jets and filters. The suction in hot tubs especially can catch a child’s hair or bathing suit and pull them underwater.
  • Also teach children good water safety—don’t ever go swimming without an adult present, don’t run near the water, don’t swim in the rain or during thunderstorms. Remind adults not to mix alcohol and swimming, and to keep electrical devices away from the pool. Avoid swimming when you’re tired or not feeling well.
  • Provide lifejackets for those who cannot swim, or do not let them into the water. Have a safety pole or life preserver handy to help anyone who may need assistance. A built-in ladder will also help those who need it.
  • Lastly, install non-slick surfaces around the pool or hot tub and along the path to them. Even if you tell everyone not to run, they can still slip and fall if the area is wet and they lose their balance.

These precautions are just basic tips, so be sure to read what is required of you by your homeowner’s association as well as your town/city/state government. Following everything, even to the letter, can’t prevent all injuries, but it will go a long way toward eliminating most problems before they have a chance to take place.