During a week when at least six people in New Jersey drowned in pools and bodies of water, the Red Cross is spreading the word about pool safety.

The best way to have fun in and around the pool this summer is to make sure everyone is “water smart,” American Red Cross New Jersey spokeswoman Diane Concannon said.

That means knowing how to swim and having that critical safety knowledge and some of the skills that can save a life in and around the water.

“We want families to build confidence in the water by learning how to be safe, making good choices, learning how to swim, and knowing how to handle emergencies,” Concannon said.

With backyard swimming pools, she said it’s important to have a “water watcher” — somebody who is designated to be at the pool, watching those swimmers, and will be relieved by another responsible water watcher at a designated time.

Eyes should always be on people in the pool, especially when there is a big backyard party going on with lots of young children around.

“Make sure you’re preventing unsupervised access to that water. If you’re not using the pool, make sure there’s no way for little ones to get to it. Providing that constant active adult supervision regardless, and everyone knowing how to swim are critical layers to protection to help prevent drowning,” Concannon said.

At community pools, lifeguards are generally on duty but she said parents also need to keep a close eye on their children, follow the pool rules, and have young kids swim near lifeguards so they can be seen.

If someone is struggling in the pool, she advises practicing the “reach or throw don’t go” technique. During an emergency reach for the pool skimmer, a life saver ring, or something else to throw at the victim in the pool. But Concannon said don’t go in because you could become a victim yourself.

If a person, especially a child, goes under, call 911 immediately. Get the victim out and perform CPR or first aid before emergency services arrive on the scene.

Concannon said drowning happens very quickly. A drowning person may only last 20 to 60 seconds before submerging.

She cannot stress enough that having eyes on the water, and possessing the skills to know CPR and first aid can make all the difference in saving a life.

At the end of the swimming day, remove all pool toys from the water and put them away, out of sight so young children are not lured back to the pool. Make sure all fences and gates leading to the pool are secured properly and locked to prevent any accidents.

All swim safety tips and water protection tips can be found here.

Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at jennifer.ursillo@townsquaremedia.com

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