What to Know About Pool Safety and How to Prevent Drowning Emergencies

The tragic death of skier Bode Miller’s 19-month-old daughter on Saturday emphasizes the importance of pool safety, especially as the summer season ramps up.

Miller’s daughter, Emeline Grier, wandered into a neighbor’s backyard pool while the family was talking to the neighbors inside their home.

“She was only missing for just a short amount of time and Mom turned and was looking for her and didn’t see her right next to her,” Orange County Fire Authority Captain Steve Concialdi told PEOPLE. “Mom went straight to the backyard to where the pool was. The child was in the pool. The mom pulled out the little girl and they started CPR immediately.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, children between the ages of 1 and 4 have the highest drowning rates, with most occurring in swimming pools at home. And among the children ages 1 to 4 who die of unintentional injuries, drowning accounts for one-third of the deaths.

The American Red Cross recommends protecting home pools with a gate. “Secure your pool with appropriate barriers. Completely surround your pool with a 4-feet high fence or barrier with a self-closing, self-latching gate. Place a safety cover on the pool or hot tub when not in use and remove any ladders or steps used for access. Consider installing a pool alarm that goes off if anyone enters the pool,” says the American Red Cross website.

The organization also emphasizes the need to watch children closely when they’re around all bodies of water, and to never allow anyone — even if they can swim — to be in the pool alone. Additionally, all pool toys should come out of the water when they’re not in use, as they often entice young kids to jump in.

Concialdi added that children often do not make a noise if they’re drowning, so parents need to stay vigilant.

“Unfortunately, children do drown without a sound. There is no yelling or screaming,” he said. “When a child jumps in the water and that child doesn’t know how to swim, they panic under water. It is extremely tragic.”

The American Red Cross also advises that parents take first aid and CPR courses to help in an emergency. They provide step-by-step instructions on their website, and offer classes around the country, found here.

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