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Safety encouraged as pool season begins

In this file photo, a lifeguard stands on duty at Rhodes Jordan Park pool.

In this file photo, a lifeguard stands on duty at Rhodes Jordan Park pool.

SAFETY TIPS

-- Lock gates and doors to limit pool access, and use a pool cover when not in use.

-- Always supervise children around water, and if a child goes missing, check the water first.

-- Teach children to swim, and remind them of the dangers of unsupervised swimming.

-- Make sure adults and experienced swimmers still swim with a buddy and in public areas.

-- Wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket if you’re going to be around water or on a boat.

-- Be careful around lakes and rivers, even if you don’t plan on going for a swim.

-- Keep emergency telephone numbers and rescue equipment within reach.

-- Learn CPR and how to use the rescue equipment at your pool.

-- Cover pool drains and vents to prevent entanglement of hair or body.

-- Mark water depths clearly, and use a float line to separate the deep and shallow ends.

-- Always follow all pool rules and instructions from lifeguards.

-- Don’t mix alcohol and water – it can impair your judgment, balance, and swimming skills.

-- Check in advance for inclement weather, and take shelter accordingly.

Kids will begin splashing into summer Saturday.

Gwinnett County's outdoor pools will open for the summer this Memorial Day weekend, with a crowd expected to kick off the season.

With the coming of summer, the calls to the Gwinnett County Fire Department begin for heat exhaustion and barbecue fires. But the biggest increase comes for water-related emergencies, said spokesman Capt. Thomas Rutledge.

Last year, the department was called out 27 times for near drownings, although Rutledge said some of those were just "good intent" calls.

"Swimming pools, whether in the backyard, neighborhood, or at an apartment complex, are a great way to spend time with family and friends during the warm weather months," Rutledge said. "However, having a pool, spa, pond or hot tub on your property is a huge responsibility when it comes to being safe. It's important to remember that a person can drown quickly in any amount of water."

To avoid problems, many of Rutledge's tips involve supervision, including limiting access to pools and ponds and making sure an adult is designated as a "water watcher" when kids are gathered at the pool.

"Drowning is a leading -- but preventable -- cause of death and injury among children and adults in the Unites States," Rutledge said. "If you own a pool or spa, make sure that drains and vents include anti-entrapment covers, meaning that they will not entangle the hair or body of an adult or child. Place an alarm mechanism on the pool gate to indicate whenever someone enters or exits the pool area and use a float line to separate the deep and shallow ends of the pool. Parents should consider teaching children to swim at a young age. Pool related injuries and deaths are preventable by following simple water safety rules."

Several of the county's aquatic centers feature leisure play pools for the kids, with play structures, giant water slides and picnic areas, while others have indoor or outdoor lap pools.

"I know that many kids and parents across Gwinnett County are excited about pool season starting," Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said. "Gwinnett parks offer a variety of water features, not just regular pools. Visiting one of our pools is a great way to cool off during the summer. However, remember your sun screen and follow all the water safety rules."

For a list of Gwinnett County pool hours and prices, go to www.gwinnettparks.com.

Due to construction, the Bogan Park facility will remain closed throughout the summer.


View Gwinnett County pools in a larger map