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Crowds have already flocked to enjoy pool season

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Andrew Surgent, 4, laughs as he drenches his brother Alex Surgent, 10, both of Lawrenceville at the Collins Hill Aquatic Center in Suwanee on Thursday. The Collins Hill Aquatic Center opened on Memorial Day to start the season.

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Andrew Surgent, 4, laughs as he drenches his brother Alex Surgent, 10, both of Lawrenceville at the Collins Hill Aquatic Center in Suwanee on Thursday. The Collins Hill Aquatic Center opened on Memorial Day to start the season.

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Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Kiomara Gonzalez, left, of Suwanee and Keyla Lara of Lawrenceville tickle Joseph Robles, 3, of Lawrenceville while in the pool at the Collins Hill Aquatic Center in Suwanee on Thursday. The Collins Hill Aquatic Center opened on Memorial Day to start the season.

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Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan People pack the Collins Hill Aquatic Center in an attempt to cool off from the 91 degree heat in Suwanee on Thursday. The Collins Hill Aquatic Center opened on Memorial Day to start the season.

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Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Katie Grace, 7, of Dacula, glides into the pool after coming down a water slide at the Collins Hill Aquatic Center in Suwanee on Thursday. The Collins Hill Aquatic Center opened on Memorial Day to start the season.

SUWANEE -- The Aquatic Center at Collins Hill Park opened the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, and pool supervisor Monte Harpe noticed an uptick in visitors.

"This is one of the busiest times of year," Harpe said.

As summer begins, crowds have flocked to pools -- like the one where Harpe works, behind Collins Hill High -- water parks and public fountains.

There are also plenty of tips to stay safe around the water. Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services reported 38 incidents that involved water-related emergencies last year. From 2008 to 2010, there were 11 reported drowning deaths in Gwinnett County.

Capt. Eric Eberly said in a news release that parents should consider teaching children to swim at a young age.

Eberly suggested the following water safety rules:

-- Access to swimming pools or other bodies of water should be limited by barriers such as locked doors, fences or gates.

-- Never allow children to enter the pool or spa area without supervision. Children in the water should be accompanied by a responsible adult or caregiver. Obey all instructions provided by the lifeguard or the posted pool rules.

-- Designate an adult "water watcher" (or multiple adults) to supervise children in or near the pool. This is also important during large gatherings. If the pool employs a lifeguard, remember that your child is your responsibility, not the lifeguard's. Never fall asleep while sunbathing or allow distractions such as books, magazines, and friendly conversation to take your attention off your child in the water. A child should always be accompanied by a responsible adult while in or near the water.

-- Keep wheeled toys, such as tricycles and bikes away from the pool deck or spa edge.

-- Never allow anyone, regardless of their age, to swim alone. Always swim with a buddy in a supervised area.

Provide rescue equipment around the pool in an easy to access location. A rescue pole or life preserver is a must for anyone in trouble in the water. Remember to "reach or throw, don't go" when helping a distressed swimmer.

-- Post emergency numbers by the telephone and call for help at the onset of the emergency.

-- Post and enforce pool rules such as no running, pushing, or horseplay in or near the swimming pool. "Look before you leap" and "no diving in the shallow end" are important rules to remember when swimming.

-- Use a manual or automatic pool cover whenever the pool is not in use.

-- Monitor the weather before going out to swim. Never swim if there is thunder or lightning in the area. Go indoors to safety during a thunderstorm.

-- Have a clear view of the swimming pool from inside the house, in case a child slips outside and you fail to notice.

-- If a child is missing or unaccounted for, be sure to check the swimming pool, bathtub or spa first.

-- Adults should avoid the use of alcohol during water-related activities. Never go swimming or boating on the lake or river while intoxicated.

-- If spending time on the lake or river, remember to wear a U.S. Coast Guard or Consumer Products Safety Commission approved lifejacket. Always obey the rules for safe boating. River-goers, whether fishing from the banks or boating, should frequently check the water release schedule and monitor changing weather conditions before and during river activities. For additional information on pool safety and preventing water-related emergencies, visit the CPSC pool safely website at www.poolsafely.gov.