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Summer Camp Safety

By: Stacy Eckes
By: Stacy Eckes

With the recent drowning at a summer camp in Portage County, we take a closer look at what safety measures are in place to keep your young camper safe.

At the YMCA Camp Sturtevant they use a buddy system. Whether the campers are playing in the water or hiking the trails, they take a break every 15 to 30 minutes to pair up so counselors can take a head count.

Another safety rule, every camper must wear a personal floatation device before they are allowed near a canoe.

Having enough counselors on hand is also critical. At the YMCA Camp Stutevant they keep at least a 15 to 1 ratio.

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How to Prevent Child Drownings

Barriers

  • Barriers are not childproof, but they provide layers of protection for a child who strays from supervision. Barriers give parents additional time to locate a child before the unexpected becomes a reality.

  • Barriers include a fence or wall, door alarms for the house, and a power safety cover over the pool. Barriers also may be used to protect children from accessing hot tubs and spas.

Fences and Gates

  • Install a fence or other barrier, such as a wall, completely around the pool. If the house is part of the barrier, the doors leading from the house to the pool should be protected with an alarm or the pool should have a power safety cover.

  • The fence or other barrier should be at least four feet high. It should have no foot- or handholds that could help a young child to climb it.

  • Vertical fence slats should be less than four inches apart to prevent a child from squeezing through.

  • There are a wide variety of fencing construction materials available to compliment your house and pool surroundings. Your local fence company or pool enclosure company can provide you with information and assist you in making a selection.

  • The weak link in the strongest and highest fence is a gate that fails to close and latch completely. For a gate to close completely every time, it must be in proper working order.

Door Alarms

  • If the house forms one side of the barrier, then doors leading from the house to the pool should be protected with alarms that produce an audible sound when a door is unexpectedly opened.

  • Install an alarm that can be temporarily turned off by an adult for a single opening of the door by using a keypad or switch that is out of a child's reach.

  • Battery and electrically powered alarms are available. The key pad switch can be used by adults who wish to pass through the door without setting off the alarm. It should be placed high on all doors leading from the house to the pool. Affordable and easily installed alarms are available. An alarm signal immediately tells a parent that a door has been opened.

Rules for Pools

  • Instruct babysitters about potential pool hazards to young children and about the use of protective devices, such as door alarms and latches. Emphasize the need for constant supervision.
    Never leave a child unsupervised near a pool.

  • If a child is missing, check the pool first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability. Go to the edge of the pool and scan the entire pool, bottom and surface, as well as the pool area.

  • Do not allow a young child in the pool without an adult.

  • Do not consider young children to be drownproof because they have had swimming lessons. Children must be watched closely while swimming.

  • Do not use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision.

  • Learn CPR. Babysitters and other caretakers, such as grandparents and older siblings, should also know CPR.

  • Keep rescue equipment by the pool. Be sure a telephone is poolside with emergency numbers posted nearby.

  • Remove toys from in and around the pool when it is not in use. Toys can attract young children to the pool.

  • Never prop open the gate to a pool barrier.

Source: http://cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/359.html (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission).


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