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First responders endorse Operation ChildSafe Pool

MADISON – Local first-responders are endorsing a straightforward program to reduce childhood drownings.

Madison Fire and Rescue Department, along with Safekids Worldwide/Huntsville, Huntsville Emergency Medical Services Inc. and Madison Police Department, has initiated Operation ChildSafe Pool.

“One child drowning is one too many, but, unfortunately, it’s a much bigger problem than that,” Capt. Russ Kennington with Madison Fire and Rescue Department said.

Three children almost drowned in one month this summer in Madison. “Nationally, the numbers are staggering,” Kennington said. Drowning is the no. 1 cause of preventable death in one- through four-year-old children. “The sad thing is that almost all drowning incidents are preventable.”

Operation ChildSafe Pool uses simple steps designed to reduce childhood drownings, non-fatal submersions and drain entrapments in swimming pools and spas.

Operation ChildSafe Pool focuses on three primary areas:

* Adult supervision — Imperative while the child is swimming and cannot be over-emphasized.

* Barriers — Door alarms, pool alarms, fences at least four feet tall with self-closing and latching gates, automatic pool and spa covers and code-compliant drain covers. Sixty-nine percent of children who drowned accessed the pool area unknowingly, and adults did not expect the child to be there.

* Classes — Swimming lessons for children and CPR classes for adults. Parents should know how to recognize warning signs of a distressed swimmer. After beginning to struggle, a child may have no more than 20 seconds before sinking. A child whose head is barely above the waterline, no eye contact, vertical in the water and hair over face may be close to drowning.

“Parents should learn what ‘real life’ drowning looks like — it isn’t anything like the way the movies show it,” Kennington said.

Madison residents should have pool ‘check-ups.’ “Give us a call and we will be glad to send one of our firefighters out to look at your pool and complete our Safe Pool Checklist. This courtesy inspection will help keep you and your family safe,” Kennington said.

“We ask parents to remember their ABCs (adults, barriers and classes) and make sure they’re doing these things at a pool. Adult supervision and adding extra safety steps in and around pools and spas can make all the difference,” Kennington said.

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