NORTH ROYALTON, Ohio – A backyard pool can become a deadly place if a parent is busy or gets distracted from what is going on in the pool.
“With drownings, it’s just seconds; you only have seconds to respond,” said Michelle Eibel, aquatic director at the North Royalton YMCA.
Last week, U.S. Olympian Bode Miller lost his 19-month-old daughter in a drowning accident at a friend’s backyard pool. The child apparently wandered off when the adults were not looking and drowned in the pool.
There are some unique devices on the market that provide parents with an extra layer of security.
“This is a Safety Turtle. It’s a little extra protection for the homeowners and their children,” explained Jason Koelliker, sales manager at Litehouse Pools & Spas in Strongsville.
A locking bracelet goes on the child and if that bracelet goes under water a loud alarm will sound from the device’s base.
“You plug this [base] in within 100 feet of the water so then when the children are out by the pool, if that bracelet is ever submerged into the water, the alarm will go off, setting a very loud signal from this base,” Koelliker said.
There is also the Pool Patrol Pool Alarm, which floats on the surface of an in-ground or above-ground pool and will sound an alarm from the pool as well as a remote receiver when a child or a pet falls into the water and creates a wave.
There are several manufacturers that make products similar to the Pool Patrol and Safety Turtle and many are available on Amazon.
Eibel with the YMCA says the first defense against drowning is always teaching kids how to swim and parents keeping a close and watchful eye on the water.
“Somebody is always supervising. You never want to swim alone; if your children can’t swim you should get them swim lessons,” Eibel said.
The YMCA offers swim lessons around Northeast Ohio for all ages from beginner to advanced.
Eibel says the swim lessons at the Y now teach kids how to be able to get out of the water or pool if they accidentally fall in.
“One of the basic lifesaving skills that we teach is jump, push, turn, grab and what happens during that is the swimmer enters the water, they push off the bottom and they turn and they grab the wall. This would help anybody that falls in the water get out safely,” Eibel explained.
Parents should also be aware of large pool floats, which can often hide kids who may be in the water or underneath the float.
“I’m not a fan of big rafts in the pool,” explained Valeri Audino, a homeowner who has a backyard pool.
“’Cause if I am up here and the older kids are in the pool I can’t always see them and I’m always counting heads,” she said.
According to the YMCA, drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death in children ages 1-14 and three children die every day as a result of drowning.
The CDC warns parents and adults that someone who is drowning will likely not be able to yell out for help.
“’Cause I know that it’s not loud when they drown. It could be really quiet and you wouldn’t notice,” Audino said.