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AAP issues new drowning prevention guidelines

May 24, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued new guidelines on drowning prevention in children. Inflatable pools are exempt from local codes that require pools be surrounded by protective fencing. But experts argue without supervision, portable pools can be just as dangerous. Four-year-old Tiwa Chi's backyard inflatable pool is his summer paradise. Nothing beats splashing his baby sister Kaya. And it's so relaxing for their mom Rayann.

"I have my water. I have my phone and it's a nice escape for me," said Rayann.

But experts are concerned inexpensive, inflatable fun can turn tragic. The American Academy of Pediatrics says portable pools are emerging as a new source of drowning risks. So the AAP is issuing new guidelines.

"With a regular inground pool there are rules for fencing around the pool and for locks. With inflatable pools if you just have one of those in your backyard there is no way necessarily to keep a toddler from having access to it," said pediatrician Dr. Glenn Schlunt.

The concern is that the sides of inflatable pools are soft so toddlers can slip in unsupervised. And it only takes a couple of inches for a child to drown.

"Whether you fall into six inches of water or seven inches of water to a toddler it's all the same," said Dr. Schlunt.

Dr. Schlunt says some parents may be super vigilant because inflatable pools are shallow. That's when accidents happen. The AAP says fence or block off a portable pool when you're not using it or better yet make empty it when it's not use.

"It only takes half a second," said Dr. Glenn.

"Never leave them alone. Keep an eye on them," said Rayann. "If you have to take them out of the pool because you forgot something in the kitchen then that's what you have to do to keep your kids safe."

The AAP dropped its opposition to swim lessons for children younger than 4 years old because new evidence shows formal swim instruction for preschoolers may lessen the likelihood of drowning. But pediatricians remain opposed top water-survival training for infants, saying there's no scientific proof it works.


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