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Let's get serious about pool play

Scary pool stats that make you take notice

Keep kids safe around the water this summer

Summertime is here and that means lots of time at the pool. There is much fun to be had swimming, jumping and diving, while moms and dads watch from the poolside, but there are grave safety concerns to consider when children are spending so much time in and around the water.

A report conducted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission found that children under the age of 5 made up 75 percent of all drowning victims over the course of two years.

The youngest are the most vulnerable
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, drowning is a leading cause of death for children from age 1 to 4 years. While 40 percent of all juvenile drownings occurred at a private residence, with the most vulnerable group being children ages 1-4, that percentage drastically increased, with the youngest children more likely to fall victim to drowning in a family, friend's or neighbor's pool.

READ MORE: How water smart is your child?

Older children were more likely drown at public or commercial swimming facilities. The study also found that boys under the age of 15 are twice as likely to be the victim of drowning than girls in the same age group. None of these statistics are pleasant to think about, but serve as a stark reminder as we head into swimming season that extra vigilance must be taken when small children - and all children - are around pools, including hot tubs and portable kiddie pools.

To help parents protect their children, the federal government has a website poolsafely.gov that offers a variety of advice, tools and activities. It is recommended that whenever children are in or near a pool, an official "Water Watcher" - a specific adult designated to supervise children in the pool - should be assigned.

It is important that this person not read, text, or be on their phones at all. Even if a lifeguard is present, a "Water Watcher" should supervise children in a pool because other patrons in the pool may obscure the view of or distract the lifeguard.

READ MORE: Great spots to swim in the Hudson Valley

Another risk posed to young children are the drains in pools and hot tubs. A child's hair, limbs or bathing suit can get sucked into a drain that is not properly covered - as is now required by law - and prevent even the best of swimmers from emerging from the water.

Along with safety tips, the site also offers fun ways to engage your children in pool safety. There is a video with a safety sing-along. There is an app you can download on your phone, The Adventures of Splish and Splash that teaches kids what to do, and not to do, when in or near a pool. And there's some downloadable coloring pages to engage your young one in the same way. Find the app on Apple and Google Play.

Sara Dunn is a freelance writer. Her work appears in several publications around the Hudson Valley.