Kids swimming safety tips you need to know before getting in the pool or spa

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Be cool, follow the pool rules! Swimming is great way to have fun with family and friends, but it is essential to know how to stay safe before making a splash.

In fact, the YMCA reports more than half the drownings among children ages 1 to 4 are pool related. And they have some stunning statistics. In the time it takes to...

  • Cross a room for a towel (10 seconds), a child in a bathtub can be submerged.

  • Answer the phone (2 minutes), a child can lose consciousness.

  • Sign for a package at the front door (4-6 minutes), a child submerged in a tub or pool can sustain permanent brain damage.

While there is no substitute for adult supervision, there are additional steps you should take to ensure everyone stays safe.

Always have an adult nearby
Actively supervise children in and around water. Designate an official Water Watcher, an adult tasked with supervising children in the water. That should be their only task. The Water Watcher should not be reading, texting or playing games on their phone while on-duty.

Ask permission first
Teach children to always ask permission before going in or near the water. Never leave a child unattended near water.

Teach children how to swim
Swimming is fun and is a lifesaving skill. Enroll children in swimming lessons when you feel they are ready. There are free or reduced-cost options from the YMCA and the Parks and Recreation Department.

Keep away from drains
Train children not to play or swim near drains or suction outlets. Hair, jewelry or bathing suits can get stuck in the drain or suction opening. Locate the emergency vacuum shutoff before getting in the water.

Make sure there is a compliant drain cover
Check to make sure your pool or hot tub's drains are compliant with the Pool and Spa Safety Act. Powerful suction from a pool or spa drain can trap a child and even an adult.

Secure with proper fences, covers and alarms
Proper barriers and alarms can be lifesaving. At least a four foot fence should surround the pool or spa on all sides. Children should not be able to climb it. You should only be able to access the pool through a self-closing, self-latching gate.

Learn how to perform CPR on children and adults
Bystanders are often the first to lend help, so learning CPR can help save a life. CPR classes are available through hospitals, community centers, or by contacting the American Red Cross.

For more ways to stay safe, check out the Red Cross Water Safety tips.

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