Summer Tips: Pool Safety

Swimming is a fantastic form of exercise and a major component of many spring break trips and summer break fun. But parents should remember that swimming also comes with risk. Follow these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics to protecting children from drowning.

POOL SAFETY

  • Never leave children alone in or near the pool or spa, even for a moment; close supervision by a responsible adult is the best way to prevent drowning in children.
  • Whenever children under age 5 are in or around water, an adult – preferably one who knows how to swim and perform CPR – should be within arm’s length, providing “touch supervision.”
  • Install a fence at least 4 feet high around all four sides of the pool. The fence should not have openings or protrusions that a young child could use to get over, under, or through.
  • Make sure pool gates open out from the pool, and self-close and self-latch at a height children can’t reach. Consider alarms on the gate to alert you when someone opens the gate. Consider surface wave or underwater alarms as an added layer of protection.
  • The safest fence is one that surrounds all 4 sides of the pool and completely separates the pool from the house and yard. If the house serves as the fourth side of the fence, install an alarm on the exit door to the yard and the pool. For additional protection, install window guards on windows facing the pool. Drowning victims have also used pet doors to gain access to pools. Keep all of your barriers and alarms in good repair with fresh batteries.
  • Keep rescue equipment (a shepherd’s hook ­– a long pole with a hook on the end — and life preserver) and a portable telephone near the pool. Choose a shepherd’s hook and other rescue equipment made of fiberglass or other materials that do not conduct electricity.
  • Avoid inflatable swimming aids such as “floaties.” They are not a substitute for approved life jackets and can give children and parents a false sense of security.
  • Children over age 1 may be at a lower risk of drowning if they have had some formal swimming instruction. However, there is no evidence that swimming lessons or water survival skills courses can prevent drowning in babies younger than 1 year of age.
  • The decision to enroll a child over age one in swimming lessons should be made by the parent based on the child’s developmental readiness and exposure to water, but swim programs should never be seen as “drown proofing” a child of any age.
  • Avoid entrapment: Suction from pool and spa drains can trap a swimmer underwater. Do not use a pool or spa if there are broken or missing drain covers. Ask your pool operator if your pool or spa’s drains are compliant with the Pool and Spa Safety Act. If you have a swimming pool or spa, ask your pool service representative to update your drains and other suction fitting with anti-entrapment drain covers and other devices or systems. See PoolSafely.gov for more information on the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act.
  • Large, inflatable, above-ground pools have become increasingly popular for backyard use. Children may fall in if they lean against the soft side of an inflatable pool. Although such pools are often exempt from local pool fencing requirements, it is essential that they be surrounded by an appropriate fence just as a permanent pool would be so that children cannot gain unsupervised access.
  • If a child is missing, look for him or her in the pool or spa first.
  • Share safety instructions with family, friends and neighbors.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2018). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.


Backyard Pool Safety

Swimming pools can have a powerful pull on little children―even when it’s not swimming time. Those glistening turquoise-blue ripples may look especially inviting to an active toddler or an overly confident preschooler.

Kids can slip away from the watchful eyes of adults in seconds. It happens every day.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends several ways parents can help keep children safe around home swimming pools and hot tubs―all year long―in your own backyard, your neighbor’s, or on vacation.

Fact: Most drownings in kids 4 and under happen in home swimming pools.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) studied drownings among children age 4 and under in Arizona, California, and Florida, where pools are especially common. It found that nearly 70% of the children were not expected to be at or in the pool, yet they were found in the water. In fact, 46% of the children were last seen in the house.

Pool fences. Safety precautions not ​to ignore.

Pool fences are for above-ground pools that are portable as well as those that are permanent, in-ground pools, and hot tubs.

Between 2013 and 2015, most (58%) drownings among children age 4 and under took place in a pool or spa at their own home. Most children drowned when they wander out of the house and fell into a swimming pool that was not fenced off from the house. They slipped out a door, climbed out a window, or even crawled through a doggy door to access the pool.

But, a family swimming pool isn’t the only one a child can get into unnoticed. More than a quarter (27%) of drownings among children age 4 and under took place at the home of a friend, relative or neighbor. Only some individual states and municipalities have laws requiring pool safety fences; there is no national pool fence law. Whenever your child will be in someone else’s home, always check for ways your child could access pools and other potential hazards.

Fact: Fences are the most effective, proven way to prevent drowning of young children.

Pool Fencing Recommendations:

  • 4 feet, 4 sides. The pool fence should be at least 4 feet high and completely surround the pool, separating it from the house and the rest of the yard.
  • Climb-proof. The fence shouldn’t have any footholds, handholds, or objects such as lawn furniture or play equipment the child could use to climb over the fence. Chain-link fences are very easy to climb and are not recommended as pool fences. (If they are used, make sure openings are 1¾ inches or smaller in size).
  • Slat space. To ensure a small child can’t squeeze through the fence, make sure vertical slats have no more than 4 inches of space between them. This will also help keep small pets safe, too.
  • Latch height. The fence should have a self-closing and self-latching gate that only opens out, away from the pool area. The latch should be out of a child’s reach—at least 54 inches from the ground.
  • Gate locked, toy-free. When the pool is not in use, make sure the gate is locked. Keep toys out of the pool area when it is not in use.

Alarms. A child drowning is rarely heard.

Beyond a fence, additional layers of protection such as pool alarms, door and gate alarms, and pool covers can provide some added safety around a pool. Make sure alarms are in good shape with fresh batteries, and keep in mind none are substitutes for a properly installed pool fence.

Drowning is silent. Alarms break that silence.

  • Pool alarms. Children can drown within seconds, with barely a splash. Swimming pool alarms can detect waves on the water’s surface and sound off to attract attention when someone has fallen into the pool.
  • Consider alarms on the pool fence gate and house doors. Door and gate alarms can be equipped with touchpads to let adults pass through without setting them off. House doors should be locked if a child could get to the pool through them.
  • Window guards. These can be especially helpful for windows on the house that face the pool.

A word on pool covers:

Pool covers should cover the entire pool securely enough that a child can’t slip under them. Make sure no standing water collects on top—children can drown in less than 2 inches of water. Power-operated covers are often the safest and easiest to use. Remember: Floating solar and winter covers are not safety covers and can actually increase drowning risk. Because a floating cover makes the pool surface appear solid, a small child might try to retrieve a ball or other light toy that landed on it and quickly slip underneath—often trapped and hidden from view. ​

What Else Can Parents Do?

Even with safety measures in place, parents should be prepared in case that their child gets into a swimming pool unseen.

Some precautions that may help:

  • Assign a water watcher. His or her job is to watch all children swimming or playing in or NEAR water―such as on a backyard swing set―even if they know how to swim. This person should:
    • not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol
    • put down his or her cell phone
    • avoid other activities
    • supervise even if there are lifeguards
    • switch off with another adult for breaks
  • Life jackets: Put your child in a properly fitted US Coast Guard approved life jacket when around or near water, such as when visiting a home with a pool.
  • Swim lessons. The AAP recommends swim lessons as a layer of protection against drowning that can begin for many children starting at age 1.
  • CPR training. Parents, caregivers, and pool owners should know CPR and how to get emergency help. Keep equipment approved by the U.S. Coast Guard, such as life preservers and life jackets at poolside.
  • Check the water first. If a child is missing, look for him or her in the pool or spa first. This is especially important if your child is prone to wandering.

Last Updated: 7/13/2020. Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2019). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.


Getting Children and Teens Outside While Social Distancing for COVID-19

​Because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19​) pandemic, many schools are now closed for the rest of the academic year. You may have created a schedule for your family while everyone’s home. Ideally, it includes some outdoor time.

But what can you actually do outside with your children while staying at a safe distance from others? Think nature exploration!

Read on for some tips to help you and your children get a healthy dose of nature while still practicing good social distancing.

Exploring nature while social distancing

Nature all around us. Nature exploration with proper social distancing can happen in your yard, a table-top garden, or even virtually (though not with all of the benefits).

Bringing out baby. Even infants and toddlers can play and learn in nature. If you will be in public spaces, it may be safest to keep them in a carrier or a stroller. If they are in your own private space, it’s fine to have them explore even more.

  • Nature sculptures can be built with twigs, leaves, cones, rocks and more by sticking the collected items into a play dough base. Help your child put objects in the play dough and notice what kind of patterns are created by different items.
  • Biking with the family in your neighborhood can be a good option if you can keep your distance from others during your ride. If you have a child bicycle trailer, get some exercise while enjoying the outdoors with your baby in tow.
  • ​Playing in mud is very fun for young children and helps them develop their senses and motor skills. You can give your child old pots, pans, utensils, and other household tools to move, pour, and squish the mud for imaginary play.

Challenge older children and teens. Stay engaged with the outdoors as a family. Take advantage of this time to bond over activities everyone enjoys.

  • Hold a nature scavenger hunt for the family. Include categories like plants, trees, animals, birds. Who can create the longest list of the signs of spring that they find? How many different flowers can you photograph?
  • Create a nature journal so they can describe what they see from a comfortable spot outside. Encourage them to write how that makes them feel or draw what they see.
  • Have a ball. Kicking a soccer ball or playing catch together can be fine if you are apart from each other and don’t share any sports equipment with others outside your household.

The benefits of being outside

Getting outside provides more than a fun break for children and teens. It is also good for their physical and mental health and development. For example, children and teens who spend time enjoying nature can be:

Physically healthier. Children play harder outdoors than indoors. Especially without the structure of preschool, school or afterschool activities, children especially need opportunities to move. Children who spend more time outdoors have improved motor development. More outdoor time is linked with lower obesity rates.

More engaged in learning. Playing outside promotes more curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking. Studies have found that children who spent more time in nature exploration had improved learning outcomes.

More positive in behavior. Research has found that when children spent time in natural settings they had less anger and aggression. Impulse control also improves. This might be especially important when normal routines have changed for children.

Mentally healthier. Stress and depression are reduced for all people who spend time in nature. Children show increased focus and reduced symptoms of for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Reme​mber

Take advantage of the healing power of nature—in your own backyard or on a walk. Just remember to follow local public health guidance and keep at least 6 feet from others outside your family. Wash your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer once you return from your adventure. Getting outdoors, being in nature, and moving our bodies is good for everyone!


Article by Danette Glassy, MD, FAAP and Pooja Tandon, MD, FAAP. Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2020). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Finding Time to Be Active

See if this scenario sounds familiar — your child has come home from school with 2 hours of homework, including studying for a math test the following day. He also needs to start working on a science fair project. And don’t forget the clarinet lesson that’s on his calendar as well. There seems to be barely enough time to fit in dinner and a bath.

No wonder some kids feel that they just don’t have time for physical activity. Their schedules are filled to overflowing, and when they’re overbooked, it’s easy for physical activity to fall by the wayside.

As a parent, you need to intervene to make sure your child has time for all the things that are important. Whether he’s overweight, physical activity needs to be a priority.

Sit down with your child and structure his time after school so he can fit in everything that’s most essential. For example, in planning the following day, you might say something like, “You have a block of after-school time tomorrow. Maybe the time immediately after school isn’t the best time for homework, because it will take up the daylight hours you could be outside playing.Why don’t you think about choosing to play outdoors for 30 minutes or an hour after you get home? Then we’ll go to your clarinet lesson, and once you’ve eaten dinner and it’s dark outside, you can do your homework. The evening is the time when you used to watch TV anyway, so it’s a good time to get your homework done. And let’s think about rescheduling your clarinet lessons for the weekends.”

As a parent, you can help your child find the opportunities to be active. If you’re creative, the time will almost always be there.


Source: A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Obesity: A Road Map to Health (Copyright © 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Cold Weather Safety

Heading outside for some wintertime fun like sledding, throwing snowballs or ice skating can be a sure-fire cure for cabin fever. It’s also a great way for kids to get the 60 minutes of daily exercise they need. Just be sure your child is dressed right–and know when it’s time to come in and warm up.

Children exposed to extreme cold for too long and without warm, dry, breathable clothing can get frostbite or even life-threatening hypothermia.

Little Bodies, Big Chill

Children are more at risk from the cold than adults. Because their bodies are smaller, they lose heat more quickly. Especially if they’re having fun, they may be less likely to come inside when they’re getting too cold.

Frostbite. Frostbite happens when the skin, and sometimes the tissue below it, freezes. Fingers, toes, ears, and noses are most likely to get frostbite. Frostbitten skin may start to hurt or feel like it’s burning, then quickly go numb. It may turn white or pale gray and form blisters. What to do:

  • If you suspect frostbite, bring your child indoors to gently warm up. Don’t rub the affected area, and don’t pop any blisters.
  • Avoid placing anything hot directly on the skin. Soak frostbitten areas of the body in warm (not hot) water for 20 to 30 minutes. Warm washcloths can be applied to frostbitten noses, ears and lips.
  • After a few minutes, dry and cover your child with blankets. Give her something warm to drink.
  • If the pain or numbness continues for more than a few minutes, call your pediatrician.

Hypothermia. When the body’s temperature drops below normal from the cold, dangerous hypothermia begins to set in. A child may start shivering, a sign the body is trying to warm itself up, but then become sluggish, clumsy, or slur his words. What to do:

  • Hypothermia is a medical emergency, so call 911 right away.
  • Until help arrives, bring your child indoors. Remove any wet clothing, which draws heat away from the body.
  • Wrap your child in blankets or warm clothes, and give her something warm to drink. Be sure to cover core body areas like the chest and abdomen.
  • If your child stops breathing or loses a pulse, give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation or CPR.

Preventing Frostbite and Hypothermia

Frostbite and hypothermia are different conditions, but some wintertime planning and safety steps can help protect your child from both:

Check the Wind Chill. In general, playing outside in temperatures or wind chills below -15° Fahrenheit should be avoided. At these temperatures, exposed skin begins to freeze within minutes.

What to Wear. Several thin layers will help keep kids warm and dry. Insulated boots, mittens or gloves, and a hat are essential. Make sure children change out of any wet clothes right away.

Take Breaks. Set reasonable limits on the amount of time spent playing outside to prevent hypothermia and frostbite. Make sure kids have a place to go for regular indoor breaks to warm up.


Source: Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention (Copyright © 2017 American Academy of Pediatrics). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Finding Time to Be Active

See if this scenario sounds familiar—your child has come home from school with 2 hours of homework, including studying for a math test the following day. He also needs to start working on a science fair project. And don’t forget the clarinet lesson that’s on his calendar as well. There seems to be barely enough time to fit in dinner and a bath.

No wonder some kids feel that they just don’t have time for physical activity. Their schedules are filled to overflowing, and when they’re overbooked, it’s easy for physical activity to fall by the wayside.

As a parent, you need to intervene to make sure your child has time for all the things that are important. Whether he’s overweight, physical activity needs to be a priority.

Sit down with your child and structure his time after school so he can fit in everything that’s most essential. For example, in planning the following day, you might say something like, “You have a block of after-school time tomorrow. Maybe the time immediately after school isn’t the best time for homework, because it will take up the daylight hours you could be outside playing.Why don’t you think about choosing to play outdoors for 30 minutes or an hour after you get home? Then we’ll go to your clarinet lesson, and once you’ve eaten dinner and it’s dark outside, you can do your homework. The evening is the time when you used to watch TV anyway, so it’s a good time to get your homework done. And let’s think about rescheduling your clarinet lessons for the weekends.”

As a parent, you can help your child find the opportunities to be active. If you’re creative, the time will almost always be there.


Source: A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Obesity: A Road Map to Health (Copyright © 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

THIS WEEKEND: Connecticut Trails Day

Did you know that Connecticut hosts the largest National Trails Day celebration in the nation?

With more than 250 events to choose from, it could be a hard decision. Thankfully, the Connecticut Forest and Park Association has a great directory of events for you and your family to use.

START HERE > Go to the Online Directory, sort by what interests you, how hard it is, and even if you can bring your dog! Next choose the event and let the event leader know you’re coming using the green button on the bottom of the event description page. That’s it, now all you have to do is attend and have a good time!

Printed directories are available at town halls and public libraries across the state. Additionally, select nature centers, state parks, and outdoor retailers will have some for public distribution – keep an eye out for them or click here for more information

NOW…get outside this weekend and celebrate Connecticut’s awesome network of trails and outdoor spaces!

AAP Updates Recommendations to Prevent Drowning in Children

Drowning can be silent and quick, and it kills nearly 1,000 children every year. To refocus the attention of parents and physicians on one of the leading causes of death among children, the American Academy of Pediatrics is publishing updated recommendations on water safety.

“Drowning is the single leading cause of injury-related death among children ages 1 to 4,” said Sarah Denny, MD, FAAP, lead author of the policy statement, “Prevention of Drowning” published online March 15, 2019, in Pediatrics. “Many of these deaths occur when children are not expected to be swimming or when they have unanticipated access to water. Toddlers are naturally curious; that’s why we must implement other strategies, such as pool fencing and door locks.”

The second age group at highest risk of drowning deaths is teens, said Dr. Denny. Every year, about 370 children ages 10 to 19 drown. “Adolescents can be overconfident in their swimming abilities and are more likely to combine alcohol use with swimming – compounding their risk significantly. Children of color, especially African American teens are especially at risk.”

In the policy statement, the AAP lays out strategies to protect children at each stage of their life. New parents are advised to be vigilant at bath time and to empty all buckets and wading pools immediately. All children should learn to swim, and children and teens should wear life jackets while near open bodies of water. Teens can learn CPR and other water safety skills.

Injury prevention has long been a priority of pediatricians, and public health initiatives over the past 50 years have led to dramatic reductions in deaths from injuries related to motor vehicle crashes, sudden infant death syndrome, drowning, and other unintentional injuries. In the past few years, however, the rate of decline in these deaths has slowed.

Drowning remains the third leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 5-19 years. In 2017, nearly 1,000 children died from drowning and 8,700 visited a hospital emergency room because of a drowning event – with toddlers and teens at the highest risk.

The topic will be the subject of a panel presentation March 16, when leaders of the AAP will gather in Itasca, Ill., for an annual leadership conference. Family advocates, including Nicole and Jonathan Hughes, and Bode Miller, will share their experiences of losing a child to drowning. The panel will also include Sam Hanke, MD, FAAP, who lost his son to sudden infant death, and parent Greg Schell, chair of the AAP Family Partnerships Network. The panel will address recent trends in preventable child injuries, and how pediatricians can work with families to improve child health.

“We appreciate the chance to partner with these families, who have decided to channel their grief to help other parents prevent a similar tragedy. It is critically important for us to collaborate with families and communities to protect kids from drowning” said Ben Hoffman, MD, FAAP, Chair of the AAP Council on Injury, Violence & Poison Prevention. “Pediatricians should be talking about water safety routinely during well-child visits. But having families share their personal stories, we hope, will help connect with parents who may think it could ‘never happen’ to them. Tragically, it can happen to anyone.”

AAP will also publish new information for families on its website for parents, HealthyChildren.org, including water safety advice based on children’s developmental stages, and recommendations on choosing a good learn-to-swim program.

“Research has found that swim lessons are beneficial for children starting around age 1, and may lower drowning rates”, said Linda Quan, MD, FAAP, a co-author of the policy statement.

“Learning to swim is a great family activity,” said Dr. Quan. “Families can talk with their pediatrician about whether their child is developmentally ready for swim lessons, and then look for a program that has experienced, well-trained instructors. Ideally, programs should teach ‘water competency’ too – the ability to get out of the water if your child ends up in the water unexpectedly.”

Even the best swim lessons cannot “drown-proof” a child, and so AAP strongly recommends parents take steps that make a child’s environment safer. For homes with a pool, the most important safety measure is a 4-sided fence that completely surrounds the pool and isolates if from the house.

AAP also recommends:

  • Parents and caregivers should never leave children alone or in the care of another child while in or near bathtubs, pools, spas, or other open water.
  • Adults should empty water from buckets and other containers immediately after use.
  • Do not leave young children alone in the bathroom. Toilet locks can prevent drowning of toddlers.
  • When infants or toddlers are in or around the water, a supervising adult with swimming skills should be within an arm’s length, providing constant “touch supervision.”
  • Even with older children and better swimmers, the supervising adult should focus on the child and not be engaged with other distracting activities.

“Water is everywhere, and we need multiple layers to protect children from the deadly risks it poses,” said Dr. Quan. “As pediatricians, we cannot overlook this risk. Pediatricians can help by counseling families and working in their communities to improve safety, especially around pools, lakes and in boating communities.”


©The American Academy of Pediatrics, March 2019. The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.

Celebrate Earth Day, April 22!

Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on April 22. Worldwide, various events are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day now includes events in more than 193 countries, which are now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network.

Here are a few ways you and your family can celebrate in Connecticut:

For more, try a Google search on “Earth Day 2019 events in CT.”