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Create a safer retreat for backyard summer fun

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Posted: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 8:00 pm

(ARA) - Swimming is the most popular summer activity and if you have a pool or spa, your backyard just may be this summer's most popular retreat for friends, neighbors and all the children that come with them. Adding as many water safety steps as possible is the best way to assure a safer and fun experience this summer.

Drowning accidents tend to happen very, very quickly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in most cases, the children involved were out of their parents' sight for less than five minutes. The good news: Drowning can be prevented. Barriers help buy those few minutes needed to re-establish direct contact when it has been briefly lost. It's vital to have layers of protection in place between your home and pool to buy the time to re-establish contact after a momentary distraction, such as answering the phone or door, texting or other routine activities.

Numerous studies have shown that an isolation fence that separates the home from the pool can prevent 50 to 90 percent of all toddler drownings. Only an isolation fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate in proper working order will prevent children from getting into the water without your knowledge. For above-ground pools, a fence and gate surrounding the steps or ladder can prevent toddler access.

"D&D's MagnaLatch is the No. 1 selling child safety gate latch in the world," says D&D Technologies' Senior Vice President Jim Paterson. "Unlike common gravity latches, MagnaLatch has a built-in key lock. The latch release mechanism, when mounted properly, remains out of the reach of small children. Paterson notes gate hardware by D&D Technologies is now available under the Stanley brand through select Lowe's stores or online at www.lowes.com, and other hardware retailers under the National Hardware brand.

Pool gates should be inspected frequently and adjusted for latch alignment and hinge tension to make sure they self-close and self-latch every time. With D&D's TruClose hinges, the homeowner can easily adjust the self-closing tension after installation with a screwdriver.

Parents can get their children involved in pool safety education and help them become a Safer Kid, through the Safer 3 program developed by the Swim for Life Foundation. The Safer 3 is a comprehensive initiative to dramatically reduce drowning incidences and create safer water. Parents can promote water safety with their children by downloading free coloring books, story books and activity sheets at www.swimforlife.org.

Additional tips to stay pool-safe this summer:

* Never leave children alone in or near the pool or spa, even for a moment.

* If a child is missing, look for them first in the pool or spa.

* Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments.

* The National Drowning Prevention Alliance (www.NDPA.org) recommends that a "water watcher" be designated for safety when children are in the pool, to maintain eye-to-eye contact at all times.

* Toys or floating chlorine dispensers that look like toys should never be left in the pool area.

* Be aware of anything a child could use to climb up on and over a pool fence.

* Keep rescue equipment, like a shepherd's hook, near the pool.

* If your child is invited to a friend's pool don't expect the other parent to be as cautious as you may be. Offer to go with them to be another set of eyes on the pool.

* Brush up on your own swimming skills. You never know when you may have to rescue someone who is drowning, so make sure you know the proper way to help without harming yourself.

* Learn CPR. You can be the one to administer CPR to someone in need while waiting on an ambulance to arrive. You can sign up for CPR classes at The Red Cross or your local YMCA. It's a lifesaving skill you'll be glad to have.

"With isolation fencing and the Safer 3 in place, your family can look forward to years of safer relaxation and enjoyment of your pool," Paterson says.

For more information, visit www.ddtechglobal.com, www.ndpa.org and www.swimforlife.org.

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