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Katie Eubanks, Desert Breeze Aquatic Facility

BY JOAN WHITELY -- Typically, toddlers are the victims who drown in home swimming pools. But in June, two Las Vegas teens figured in serious pool accidents. A 13-year-old boy died, while a 16-year-old boy went to the hospital in critical condition.

Katie Eubanks, a recreation specialist for Clark County, admits she was surprised to learn the older demographic for the recent accidents. “Normally it’s the small children who suffer from fatal accidents, not teen-agers.”

Eubanks, who works at the Desert Breeze Aquatic Facility, shared a safety principle that teens may overlook. “Never swim alone. You want to have someone there with you. In case an emergency happens, they can call 911. They can help you.”

More safety tips for competent swimmers:

  • Don’t swim at night without adequate lighting.
  • Pay attention to signs posted for swim hours.
  • Know the depths of the water you before you dive or jump in.

When small children are swimming, the safety net needs to get even tighter. Toddlers generally don’t know how to swim, and other youngsters may misjudge their abilities. The most essential point, according to Eubanks, is to designate a “water watcher” whose sole and constant job is to monitor all the people in the home pool. This person should know CPR and follow these guidelines:

Support comes from

  • Know where safety equipment, such as buoy or shepherd’s crook, is located.
  • Have a plan for rescuing a swimmer distress, whether it includes jumping in or extending a crook or a foam “noodle.”
  • Never leave the pool area while people are swimming, not even to get a beach towel or answer the doorbell.
  • Have a cell phone handy at the pool for emergencies.
  • Do NOT use the cell phone for chatting, texting or surfing the Internet.

To select an appropriate designated watcher, consider the person’s maturity as well as his or her swimming ability and knowledge of CPR. “A good choice,” Eubanks explained, would be “any teen-ager who you feel comfortable with as a babysitter, who you feel is responsible.”

Remember that any special occasion, such as a party or barbecue, may throw off the household’s usual routine for pool safety. A pool gate might get left open if lots of people are wandering  to and from the pool, or in and out of the house.

In that case, Eubanks recommends hiring a teen lifeguard to watch the pool during the event. “Community (public) pools are a good resource” for locating a trained teen willing to take a side job, she added.



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