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N4T Lifesaver: Barriers critical to prevent drownings

TUCSON – With temperatures creeping up into the upper 90s, pool season is here.

For the past ten years the News 4 Tucson Lifesaver has been stressing those ABCs of water safety.

The ‘B’ stands for barriers – the last line of defense when it comes to keeping kids safe around water.

“Children don’t really have a good concept of safety and risk; therefore they really can’t make those good decisions about how to keep themselves safe. So that’s why those barriers, those fences, are important,” Chief John Walka with Rural-Metro Fire told the News 4 Tucson Lifesaver.

For first responders, a call of a drowning involving a child is one of the worst types of emergencies they can face.

“It does take its toll on paramedics and EMS providers. We would much rather have a lot more work put into preventing the drowning than actually having to respond to drownings,” Walka said.

Besides active adult supervision and classes, one big key to preventing drownings is barriers, but, they’re only as safe as their weakest link.

“That weakest link with barriers is usually the gate and the latches. They have to be well maintained, because the gate has to be self-closing, it has to be self-latching, and it has to open away from the pool,” Walka told the News 4 Tucson Lifesaver.

It’s also essential to make sure those barriers are up to code and, that you don’t place items near pool fences, so that kids aren’t able to get over them, and into trouble.

“Keep at least a six-foot rim or clean ring around the pool so they can’t step on something and then go over the barrier,” said Bill DeCook with E-Konomy Pool Service and Supplies.

Chief Walka also tells the News 4 Tucson Lifesaver, kids are very good at finding ways to get around barriers.

“Think like a child, and look around the pool and see is there anything that they can use or that I can use to step over that fence?” Walka said.

You also need to make sure to keep items out of the pool, so that young children aren’t tempted.

“What we like to do is remove all the pool toys from the pool area. Don’t leave them floating in the pool, don’t leave them in the area, because those are an attraction for a young child to go in.” DeCook said.

Paul Birmingham

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