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As weather turns warmer, Red Cross reminds people to "swim smart"

By KATRINA SMITH

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - When the mercury rises, dipping into pools and lakes is almost necessary, but before you make a splash, safety experts have a word of warning.

Deadly accidents in the water happen quickly, and they happen silently, so the American Red Cross offers some tips to swim smart.

First, make sure your children know how to swim. If they already know how to swim, be sure they know their limits.

Teach your children to never go in the water without an adult.

Also, keep toys that are not being used away from pool areas.

"The things that we concentrate on are diving in areas that you know are safe, where you know the water is at least ten feet deep, not diving in backyard pools, where most of the pools are four feet deep," said Shelley Hatch of the American Red Cross. "And making sure that you're supervised adequately and that kids are swimming in an area that meets their ability of swimming.

Hatch says that probably the most important tip if you have a pool at your house is that if someone is missing, to check the water first.

A quick response could mean life or death.

The American Red Cross has offered the following Home Pool Safety Checklist to help you stay safe:

Directions: Take a minute to inpsect your home pool for safety. Many times, we think we have taken all precautions necessary to protect our family and guests. Use the following checklist as a guide to make sure your pool and surrounding area are safe.

*Pool is completely enclosed with a fence with vertical bars (so that it is not easy to climb) that has a self-closing, self-latching gate.

*All doors or gates leading to the pool have secure locks, including patios, outside access gates and garage door entries.

*"No diving" areas are clearly marked.

*Pool chemicals are stored in a secure area and locked for safety.

*Pool tiles and deck area are free of sharp areas or broken tiles.

*Pool ladders, slides and diving boards are in good condition and free of loose bolts.

*Pool covers are completely removed prior to pool use and completely secured when in place.

*Toys are in good condition and free of broken or sharp edges.

*Toys are stored and kept away from and out of the pool when it is not in use.

*Furniture or toys are not left near a fence that would enable a child to climb over the fence.

*An emergency action plan is present to address potential pool emergencies.

*First aid and CPR instructions are posted.

*Emergency telephone number for the EMS system is posted by your telephone. A telephone or a fully charged cordless or mobile phone is kept poolside.

*Basic lifesaving equipment is located near the pool, and family members know how to use it. A reaching pole, rope and life jackets and a well-stocked first aid kit are available.

*Water is clean, clear and properly maintained. Water should be chemically treated and tested regularly. Contact a local pool store or health department for information and instruction.

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