Pool safety: Practice precaution

By Lisa Burnett Originally Published August 15, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated August 14, 2013 at 9:42 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Rusty Hubbard

Lifeguard Anna Walker watches over the Searcy Municipal Pool on a hot August day.

Although summer is coming to an end and children are heading back to school, weekend swim sessions should still be watched with a careful eye.

Chad Price, manager of the Searcy Municipal Pool, said he keeps six lifeguards on duty at the pool during the day and four at night.

“The main thing [our lifeguards do] is pay attention to the pool and nothing else,” Price said.

Price said that while the lifeguards are on duty to protect the patrons of the pool, parents should still keep watch over their children.

“Never let your eye off them [near a pool], especially if there are no lifeguards there,” Price said.

He said someone always talks to a patron before he enters the pool to stress safety. Most of the accidents that occur at the Searcy pool, Price said, come from people running and jumping into the pool.

Water can make the concrete slick, increasing the probability of falling, he said.

Garrett Wachtel, a lifeguard at the Searcy Municipal Pool, said he sees a lot of problems at the pool.

“We have kids fall and bust their heads,” Wachtel said. “I’m surprised by how many kids don’t listen to simple rules, like walking.”

A more serious problem is the potential for drowning.

Price said he encourages parents to enroll their children in swim lessons when they’re 4 years old.

“You want to teach them when they start getting that freedom to get in the pool themselves,” Price said. “It’s important to teach a kid how to get in the water and how to get out of the water. That’s where you have a problem with children drowning.”

Price said the Searcy pool is 11 feet at its deepest, in the diving area.

“We have one lifeguard for one person in the deep end,” he said. “We only allow one person at a time on the [diving] board, and we ask the swimmers to go immediately to the side.”

Although life jackets and flotation devices can keep a swimmer above the water most of the time, Price said they can also be dangerous.

“Floaties are very dangerous. They give a child a false sense of security,” Price said, referring to inflatable armbands.

The swimming aids can deflate, causing the child’s mouth and nose to go below the water, he said.

“A child can choke and can’t get enough air,” Price said.

It’s important to always exercise caution when someone is in a pool, especially a home pool, he said. Price said alarms can be put on pools to sound an alert when a person touches the water.

The Searcy Municipal Pool’s last weekday to be open for the season is Friday. It will be open Saturday and Aug. 24.

Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

Online News Editor Lisa Burnett can be reached at lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

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