Swimming Safety Tips For Parents

Last spring, actress Tracey Gold's toddler was out of an adult's sight for less than five minutes — enough time for the little boy to nearly die in a swimming pool.

Tracey's mother, Bonnie, was baby-sitting Tracey's two small children, Bailey, 2, and Sage, 4. She noticed that the younger child was missing, and asked where he went. Sage responded, 'Mema, Bailey's in the pool. Something's wrong.'" The grandmother raced to the pool.

"Bailey was in the pool. He was sunny side up. He was under the water, and there was no sign of life. I said to him, 'Bailey, Bailey, Bailey.'" Bonnie Gold told ABCNEWS' consumer correspondent Greg Hunter. "No response. I checked for pulse. There was no pulse, there was no breathing. So I just immediately went into CPR."

The CPR that she had learned some 30 years ago came back to her, and after two puffs of air, the water spilled out of her grandson's lungs. Bailey started screaming, as color came back into his face. After the scare, he was just fine. Bu Gold's son Bailey fits the classic pool accident profile, a child between the ages of one and three years old, out of sight for less than five minutes.

Terrible Twos Are Dangerous, Too

On average, a child under the age of five drowns in a home swimming pool every day. And every day, about seven children are treated at emergency rooms for near-drownings. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, most children drown in residential swimming pools and drowning is the second leading cause of injury-related death for children, ages 1 to 14.

"When you're two, you're just into everything," said Tracey Gold, who starred in Growing Pains. "And that's a 2-year-old's job, is to explore, and it's our job to protect them from that."

The key to water safety for children is that they should always be under adult supervision, Gold said. She also advised that parents get a self-latching fence around the pool that is at least four feet high. (At the grandmother's house, they had just moved in and there was no fence around the pool, yet.)

There are also alarms that can be attached to pool gates so that parents can hear if a child gets in. Other pool alarms can detect a volume change in the pool, indicating that someone or something has entered the water. An alarm goes off by the pool, and another remote alarm goes off inside the house. After the scare with Bailey, the whole family took a new CPR course, Gold said.

Here are some summer safety tips for you and your kids:

Whenever young children are swimming, playing or bathing in water, make sure an adult is watching them constantly. The adult should not be reading, playing cards, talking on the phone, mowing the lawn or doing any other distracting activity while watching the kids.

Learn to swim. Enroll yourself and/or your children aged 4 and older in swimming classes.

Never swim alone or in unsupervised places. Teach children to always swim with a buddy.

Keep small children away from buckets containing liquid: 5-gallon industrial containers are a particular danger. Be sure to empty them when household chores are done.

Never drink alcohol during or just before swimming, boating or water skiing, or when you are supervising children.

If you live in "shark country," mostly along the East coast and the Gulf of Mexico, you should not swim in the early morning or at sunset.

Prevent children from having direct access to the swimming pool.

Place a phone by the pool.

Learn CPR, especially if you are a pool owner or someone who regularly participates in water recreation.

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