Swimming Safety: What to know before you jump in

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The hot temperatures across South Mississippi could lead you to the pool to cool off this summer.

"Very crowded, the children are lined up here waiting for lifeguards to return from lunch," said Aquatics Director Michelle Williams.

The pools at the C.E. Roy Community Center, Ben McNair Recreation Center and Vernon Dahmer Park all have lifeguards on duty when open, Monday through Friday.

"We have had training and our lifeguards have been hired, so we are ready to go," said Williams.

But at your pool at home, in a lake or nearby river, there probably won't be lifeguards on duty. That's where Corey Coon-Cassily, Competitive Swimming Director with the YMCA, said there could be dangers.

"You have to understand that anything could happen, and very quickly," said Coon-Cassily. "It's not reacting to it, it's being proactive to it and making sure the situation doesn't escalate."

He said being proactive means never swimming alone.

"For parents, don't trust other kids to watch your kids," Coon-Cassily said. "Two six-year-olds are just two six-year-olds. Always have a primary adult that that's what they are doing."

The risk is there.  The Centers for Disease Control reports one in five people who die from drowning are children, age 14 and younger. For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency care for nonfatal submersion injuries.

Coon-Cassily said taking lessons with a licensed instructor, so you are your children are comfortable in the water, is key.

"A lot of people take the easy route, have a friend do it in their backyard pool," said Coon-Cassily. "Our instructors are trained how to teach the skills, how to communicate with a four-year-old versus an eight-year-old, so get that training in there to really help them get that strong basis for the future of swimming."

The pool at the YMCA in Hattiesburg always has lifeguards on-duty and training was going on Wednesday.

And when the public pool at Vernon Dahmer Park, as well as the two others in Hattiesburg, opens Monday, staff will be ready to keep your swim, safe.

"That is our first and foremost job, to make sure the patrons are safe," said Williams.

Tips if you have a swimming pool at home, from the CDC:

  • Install Four-Sided Fencing. Install a four-sided pool fence that completely separates the pool area from the house and yard. The fence should be at least 4 feet high. Use self-closing and self-latching gates that open outward with latches that are out of reach of children. Also, consider additional barriers such as automatic door locks and alarms to prevent access or alert you if someone enters the pool area.
  • Clear the Pool and Deck of Toys. Remove floats, balls and other toys from the pool and surrounding area immediately after use so children are not tempted to enter the pool area unsupervised.