EASTCHESTER, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Summer is officially here and pools have started to open up around the area, with many families building their own as a way to have fun at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While backyard swimming pools are both fun and a good way to cool off, they come with an extra responsibility to maintain safety as well, CBS2’s Cindy Hsu reported Thursday.
Eastchester Town Supervisor Anthony Colavita said his town has never seen as many pool applications as it has this year. Colavita said that anyone looking into adding a pool should make sure that they have certain safety measures in place, like fences around the pool and alarms to alert people when someone has entered a pool.
“They have floating alarms. They have movement-activated alarms. There are many different kinds, but we always encourage people to do that,” Colavita said.
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Pool safety takes on further importance this year due to the pandemic. While the Centers for Disease Control has said there is no evidence the virus can spread from person to person in pool water, social distancing and not sharing equipment like goggles, masks or snorkels is advised.
Though pool alarms and fences do help with pool safety, the biggest key is designated supervision. Having an adult who is watching over children that are in the pool at all times can be the difference between fun and tragedy.
“It’s not a lack of supervision, it’s a lapse of supervision. I assumed Stew was watching him; he assumed I was watching him,” said Kim Leonard, whose 21-month-old son drowned in a pool more than 30 years ago. “But we let our guard down because there was all this family around and that was our big mistake.”
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Kim and Stew Leonard have made it the family mission to save children from similar accidents. The couple has created a water safety book, featuring Stewie the duck, that has made its way into the hands of children around the world. The book teaches kids to take swim lessons, never go swimming without and adult, and to wear a life vest.
Aside from the book, the Leonard’s biggest piece of advice to families looking for some summer fun in the pool: Put down the phone.
“Do not look at this when you’re near the pool,” Stew Leonard said. “Keep it, you know, lock it up somewhere.”
“Especially if you’re the designated watcher. You have to have a designated watcher,” Kim added.
“It happens so fast,” Stew said.