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PoolSafety2July 2, 2019 - Together with Deputy County Executive Ken Jenkins, Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler, MD, Department of Social Services (DSS) Commissioner Kevin McGuire and Deputy Parks Commissioner Peter Tartaglia, Greenburgh parents Heather Landau and Daniel Pfeffer shared pool safety information with families at Saxon Woods Pool.

County Executive George Latimer said: “As summer heats up, it’s important to remind all adults how to keep kids safe around pools. The most important safeguard is your eyes and ears. Whether you’re at home, a vacation rental, a hotel pool or the house of a friend, never take your eyes off the little ones.”

Deputy County Executive Ken Jenkins said: “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. 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.”

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

Landau and Pfeffer lost their 27-month-old daughter, Saige, in 2015 to an accidental drowning at a rented summer house. Sliding doors and a backyard gate led directly to the pool, which lacked both a pool alarm and a separate fence around it.  The couple launched Spreading Smiles for Saige, to honor her memory and increase awareness of the dangers of accidental drowning among young children.

Heather Landau said: “Most accidental drownings happen just like Saige’s – when the adults are busy making lunches, packing the car or preparing for an outing. We were six adults in the house and there were six children playing outside when this happened. Saige slipped away for moments and then it was too late. We want to make sure this doesn’t happen to another family.”

Landau and Pfeffer gave water guardian tags to families at Saxon Woods pool. Hanging from a lanyard, each tag is to be worn by the adult designated to watch young children and people with special needs any time they are near water – even when they are not swimming. Their 12-year-old twins, Harley and Samantha, distributed the tags to nursery schools throughout Westchester and the family has donated 3,000 Water Guardian tags to be given out at County pools.

Sherlita Amler, MD, Commissioner of Health, said: “Children are drawn to water, and it can take seconds to drown. The key to keeping children safe around pools is to pile on the protection.  Install self-closing gates with latches that are too high for young children to access, fences that are at least 4 feet tall and audible pool and door alarms. And an adult should always be designated to watch young children when they are at a home with a pool or a body of water, so there is no confusion.”

DSS Commissioner Kevin McGuire said: “In order to prevent these tragic losses of young lives, adult supervision and vigilance is essential, whether it be at a pool, natural body of water, or even in a bathtub.”

Deputy Parks Commissioner Peter Tartaglia said: “Beach and pool safety is very important to us. Our lifeguards are here to project those in the water but there is no substitute for being educated about water safety and taking swimming lessons. We encourage parents and guardians to know their swim skill level and that of their children when coming for the day.”

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.

For more information, go to http://health.westchestergov.com