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Swimming Safety

Each year, many children drown in backyard swimming pools and small children's pools as well as in lakes and rivers. According to the Red Cross Drowning Report 2000, one of the populations that appears to be at particularly high risk of drowning are toddlers aged 1-4 years (1.85 drowning/100 000). The risk of drowning can be minimized by educating your children about water safety and by maintaining a safe pool environment. Here are a few quick tips to keep your children safe:

* Check with your town or city to find out the rules for putting up a fence around your pool
* Build a fence around your pool with self-closing gates
* Keep the gates locked and closed at all times
* Never leave your children alone in the pool, always have an adult watching the children in and around the pool
* Train your children in survival skills such as floating or treading in the water
* Teach children simple rescue methods, first aid and CPR
* Post emergency telephone numbers near the telephone
* Remove any toys and garden furniture from around the pool that may cause injury
* To prevent choking, do not chew gum or eat while swimming 
* Send children to swimming and water safety lessons (It is not recommended for children under the age of 3 to attend swimming classes)
* Personal flotation devices (life jackets) should be worn by people, children or adult, who cannot swim
* Never substitute an air filled plastic pool toy (water wings, tubes, mattresses, etc.) in place of a personal flotation device
* Water should be a comfortable 84'-87' Fahrenheit with an air temperature at least 3' warmer than the water temperature (I don't know how to make the 'degrees' symbol)
* Keep all toys out of the pool when not in use, a floating toy can become a fatal attraction
* Restrict water play to 30 minute sessions to avoid chilling
* To reduce the risk of infection, pool water should be properly chlorinated and natural bodies of water should be unpolluted 
* Pick up your pet's droppings and dispose of them hygienically 
* Avoid using fertilizers near the pool

To learn more about water safety and learn-to-swim programs, contact your local Canadian Red Cross Society or your local Branch Office of the Lifesaving Society.

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