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    Pool & Spa Hazards for Children

    Every home pool, spa, or hot tub needs "house rules" that cover supervision, behavior, dangers, maintenance, use of electrical appliances, and handling of chemicals. These house rules -- for children and adults alike -- must be established immediately, written in simple language, and posted where they are easy to see.

    The home owner has the bottom-line responsibility for safety while entertaining. Use good judgment to help protect yourself, your family, and your guests.

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    A few years ago, teenager Amy Johnson of Kansas City, Mo., was at a pet show with her family. When Amy, who has type 1 diabetes, began to feel sick, she checked her blood sugar. It was too high, so she used both her insulin pump and an insulin injection to try to correct it, both to no avail. After going to the emergency room, she ended up in the pediatric intensive care unit. She recovered -- but the episode rattled her family. This fall, with 18-year-old Amy in her first year of college, her father,...

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    Here are some simple precautions to ensure that your good times are safe times.

    Pool Safety for Children

    • Always actively supervise children. Never leave a child out of eye contact -- not even for a second. Never assume a child is water-safe, regardless of swimming lessons or experience. Infants and toddlers need to be within an arm's reach away,
    • Always swim with a buddy. Children should understand that they are never allowed to swim alone.
    • Talk to children about dangers. Make sure children get swimming and water safety lessons. Never allow a child to play in a way that would permit hair to come near a drain cover. They should not stick fingers, toes, or body parts into drains. They should not play the "hold your breath underwater" game.
    • Require good behavior from kids. This means:
      • No playful screaming for help (false alarms) that might mask a real emergency
      • No running or pushing near the pool
      • No toys like tricycles near the pool; they can lead to accidental falls into water
    • Establish rules on diving. That means:
      • Don't allow diving if your pool is less than five feet deep.
      • Teach children to dive with their hands in front of their faces.
      • Teach them to swim immediately toward the surface after diving.
      • Do not permit children with diarrhea to swim.
    • Respect storms. Never swim before, during, or after a thunderstorm.
    • Limit alcohol. No under-age drinking is allowed. Adults should limit drinking near the pool. Just two or three drinks can affect a person's judgment, even though he or she may not feel or appear to be drunk. Even a small amount of alcohol can slow reflexes -- especially if the drinker is tired or taking medication like cold/allergy drugs or prescriptions.
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