Westchester County distributing new tool designed to increase pool safety for young swimmers

WESTCHESTER COUNTY (WABC) -- With summer in full swing, Westchester County is rolling out a new tool designed to increase pool safety for young swimmers.

Water Guardian tags will be distributed to adults who accompany children to county and municipal pools. The tags, similar to an ID card on a lanyard, are meant to remind caregivers to maintain constant supervision of youngsters in and out of the water.

The tags were donated by Dr. Heather Landau and her husband Daniel Pfeffer, whose daughter accidentally drowned in 2015.

Saige Pfeffer, 2, fell into a pool during a vacation while the family was packing up the car.

"In this age group, drowning happens in seconds," said Dr. Landau, who points out the majority of drownings involving children under the age of 5 do not occur during swim activities. "It's really during the non-swim time, when adults are busy with other responsibilities."

Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury death for children ages 1 to 4, and it is the second most common cause of death for children ages 5 to 14, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"As we look forward to a fun and festive July 4th weekend, we know that many of you will be headed to one of our beautiful County pools or beaches," Deputy Executive Ken Jenkins said. "But we want to remind everyone today, parents, grandparents and caretakers, that the most important thing this week or any other week, is the safety of your children. We all know too well that accidental drownings can happen within seconds, and sometimes those seconds can mean the difference between life and death."

To protect children from drowning, watch them vigilantly and assure any pool they are near is childproof:

  • Install a pool alarm.
  • Limit access with fences and walls at least 4 feet high that completely enclose the pool and are no more than 2 inches above grade. Openings in the fence should be no more than 4 inches wide.
  • All gates should open away from the pool and should self-close and self-latch.

  • All latches must be out of a small child's reach and should face the pool.
  • Any doors with direct pool access should have an audible alarm that sounds for 30 seconds, including sliding doors, pet doors or other doors from the house to the pool when the house forms a barrier to the pool. The alarm control must be at least 54 inches high and reset automatically.
  • Carefully watch young children while swimming, regardless of whether they have taken swimming lessons. Pool toys and floats are not a substitute for supervision.
  • Steps and ladders to aboveground pools should be locked and secured or removed when the pool is not in use.
  • Keep rescue equipment and a phone by the pool; post emergency numbers. Knowing CPR can save lives.

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