Headlines involving celebrities are often frivolous, but the recent 911 call made from Usher’s home was no laughing matter. His 5-year-old son, Usher Raymond V., had become trapped in a pool drain. He was rescued, given CPR, and is expected to recover.
Entrapment in pool drains is frightening. But you can take steps to protect your children. And the story of Usher’s son gives us three valuable lessons.
First, we are reminded that pool and spa drains can have powerful suction, which can trap a child’s body or hair, if safety covers are not installed.
While home pool drains are not regulated like commercial pools, families with backyard pools should check their cover to see if it is safe. Visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website at http://www.poolsafely.gov/parents-families/residential-pool-spa-owners to learn more.
Second, we should look for safe pool and spa environments for our children away from home. Commercial pools have larger pumps and machinery, and they should have safe covers, as well as a system to override the pump if it detects a suction entrapment. Don’t be afraid to ask if these systems are in place when you stay at a resort or visit a community pool.
Third, and most important, it was supervision which saved Usher Raymond V. The adults who were present saw that he was in trouble and got him out of the water in time for CPR to work.
While I share tips with parents about entrapment, such as braiding little girl’s hair and telling them to stay away from pool drains when they swim, entrapment injuries are rare.
Here in Ahwatukee, a more likely risk is a drowning that happens due to a lapse in supervision or the breach of a pool fence. Across the Valley already, nine children and one teen have drowned.
Labor Day weekend is coming, and last year, it was deadly for three Valley children. As you invite family and friends to your weekend barbecue, plan for constant, capable supervision.
And when you chop the fresh fruit in the kitchen in preparation for the party, make sure children cannot go over, under, or through the pool fence to the water. These strategies never stop — either you are supervising actively, or your barriers are in place.
This August is the 10th Annual Drowning Impact Awareness Month, the purple ribbon campaign to remind us all to keep children safe around the water. In Ahwatukee, you can pick one up at the Ahwatukee Foothills Family YMCA.
I wear my purple ribbon to remember special children who have drowned, and to remind me to keep children safe around the water. You can do the same, and avoid a headline in your own home.
For more questions about water safety, visit www.phoenixchildrens.com.
• Tiffaney Isaacson is the water safety coordinator for Water Watchers at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Reach her at (602) 546-1712.