Three swimming pool accidents involving small children in a single week have prompted city officials to step up pool safety education efforts.
"This is a tragedy," Deputy Police Chief Dan Cross said of the accidents in mid-June. "This is about as bad as it gets--three in five days."
On June 10, a 2-year-old boy, left unsupervised by his parents, fell into a pool at a house in the 1600 block of Lupine Avenue, police said. The parents found him at the bottom of the shallow end, pulled him out and performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The child was hospitalized one night and released.
Four days later, a 4-year-old boy, whose father told him to take a bath by himself, instead wandered outside their apartment on the 500 block of North Alhambra Avenue and fell into a swimming pool, Cross said.
His father was talking on the telephone, and didn't notice his son was at the bottom of the deep end until a few minutes later, the deputy chief said. He didn't know how to swim, so he used a pool net to scoop his son out. The boy was transported to Garfield Medical Center in a coma. He regained consciousness, and has been released from the hospital, police said.
Meanwhile, a 6-month-old baby girl remains in a coma after falling into a swimming pool in the 600 block of North Moore Avenue on June 15. She and two siblings had been playing in the living room of their apartment while their mother cooked in the kitchen.
Ten minutes later, the mother noticed her children weren't in the unit, and ran outside to look for them. She saw her baby daughter floating, face down, in the center of the swimming pool. The mother could not swim, so she screamed for help.
A neighbor dived into the pool and recovered the infant before paramedics arrived. On Wednesday the baby was listed in critical condition at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena.
Doctors say that even if the baby survives, she will be severely mentally handicapped, Cross said.
Police would not release the identities of the families of the children, saying the cases are under investigation.
In response to the incidents, which involved children who are Chinese, Cross is contacting Chinese-language newspaper reporters and television stations with pool safety information. In addition, code enforcement officers are on the prowl for swimming pools that aren't properly gated and locked.
And several times a day, the Parks and Recreation Department airs a videotape on pool safety on public access cable television. Soon, the city will replace the tape with its own multilingual safety program in Chinese, English and Spanish.
But perhaps the most important safety tip, Cross said, is for parents to keep an eye on their children at all times.
Tips for Safe Pools
The American Red Cross offers these guidelines for keeping swimming pool areas safe:
1. Never permit swimming alone. Never leave a child alone, even to answer the telephone.
2. Enclose the pool with a fence and gate with a lock to prevent unauthorized entry.
3. Have basic first aid and lifesaving equipment available.
4. Conspicuously post emergency telephone numbers and safety instructions.
5. Enforce safety rules. Make sure that at least one person on hand knows artificial respiration, first aid and basic rescues.
6. Clearly mark deep and shallow areas. Use a buoyed line to mark the separation of the shallow water area and deep water.
7. Allow no running, pushing or boisterous play.
8. Have a responsible adult teach swimming and water safety.
9. Maintain clean, clear water. Consult the Health Department for pool sanitation rules.
10. Permit no bottles, glass or sharp objects to be used around the pool.
11. Do not allow people to swim when overheated or during electrical storms. Instruct non-swimmers to use inflatable objects. Do not permit diving into unsafe depths.
12. Put a cover over the pool if the pool will be unused for an extended period of time.