Pool and swimming safety tips from Kern County Sheriff's Office

BAKERSFIELD - The Kern County Sheriff’s Office asks citizens to think safety first during the 2014 summer swimming season.

The summer swimming season is upon us and many people in Kern County will be using their backyard pool or visiting a lake or the Kern River to cool off this summer. Unfortunately, statistics tell us that injuries and possibly deaths will occur as a result of people enjoying a summer swim and accidentally drowning. In 2013 there were a total of eleven accidental drowning deaths in Kern County.

On average, it is estimated that nine people drown each day in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control, drowning is also the leading cause of death for infants and young children between the ages of 1-4. In Kern County over the past five years, 68 people have died as a result of drowning.

The Kern County Sheriff’s Office is asking citizens to think safety first and follow these tips to help minimize the incidents of accidental drowning deaths and injuries this year.

Swimming Pools: The leading cause of death by drowning in Kern County.

Avoid swimming alone.
Designate adults to watch children when having a swimming party.
Never leave children alone or unattended near a swimming pool, even for a second.
When supervising a child who is swimming, adults need to always maintain “touch supervision swimming” – meaning the adult can reach out and touch or assist that child at any moment if needed. 
When supervising a child who is swimming, an adult should never be distracted or engaged in any other activity.
Of all preschoolers who drown, 70% are in the care of one or both parents at the time of drowning and 75% are missing for five minutes or less.
Install a fence around your pool, and lock the gate to the pool when not in use.
Remove all toys from the swimming pool when not in use, toys attract children.
Consider installing a pool alarm, which will sound if a person enters the pool area.
Teach children to swim at an early age.
Take the time to learn CPR.
Install a phone outside near the pool.
If you have an above ground pool, remove the ladder when not in use.
If a child is missing, always check the pool first.  Time is important.  The majority of children who survive non-fatal submersions are discovered within two minutes.

Around the house:

Children under one year of age most often drown in buckets, bathtubs or toilets.
Do not leave water standing in buckets.
Never leave water standing in the bathtub.
Never leave a child unattended in a bathtub, and always maintain touch supervision with a child in the bath.  If you have to leave the room, even for a second, take the child out of the bath and take the child with you.
Always close the lid to the toilet.  Consider installing safety locks on toilet lids.
Empty wading pools immediately after use.
Outdoor spas should have protective barriers, such as fencing or covers.
Cover outdoor ponds with a fixed grill.


Most drowning deaths over the age of 15 occur in natural water settings such as rivers and lakes.
The Kern River is the second leading cause of drowning deaths in Kern County.
A large percentage of fatal boating accidents involve either alcohol or participants without boat safety training.
Use the buddy system when swimming in lakes or rivers.
Adults need to maintain “touch supervision” with children near water or in campground areas with access to water.
Never swim in a lake or river after you have been drinking alcohol.
When around recreational water or watersports everyone should wear a U.S. Coastguard approved life vest.
Make sure all life vests are fitted properly.  A life vest that is too small may not properly support weight to float, and a loose life vest can slide up and pose suffocation or choking hazard.
Do not make the assumption because water looks calm or inviting a life vest is not needed.  The Kern River can look deceivingly calm on the surface, yet dangerous underwater currents and debris can cause even a strong adult swimmer to be pulled under.
Never operate a boat after drinking alcohol or under the influence of drugs, and do not allow passengers on the boat if they are under the influence.
Learn to recognize when a person is in trouble in the water.  People often do not yell for help, and it may appear as if they are splashing or waving when they are actually trying to keep their head above water.

If you would like further information about water safety, or are interested in other crime prevention topics, please contact the Kern County Sheriff’s Office Crime Prevention Unit at 661-391-7559 or by email at crimeprevention@kernsheriff.com.

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