By Natalie Hee
HOUSTON-- The summer is a welcomed time of year for kids everywhere, but for parents, summer comes with many precautions including water safety.
“Inspections for water quality and safety are conducted for all semi-public pools in the city once a year. Bad pools get checked more frequently if they’ve been issued a health violation before,” Porfirio Villarreal with the Houston Health Department said.
Nearly 30 percent of Houston pools get cited for poor maintenance with PH and chemical levels. Poor fencing and loose gates are also a major problem.
“We inspect 3,800 pools every year, about 29 percent of them will have violations,” Villarreal said. “Make sure that the fence is at least 48 inches high and that those bars are no more than 4 inches.”
While regular pool maintenance and constant adult supervision are key, teaching kids how to swim is the most valuable lesson.
The Harris County Aquatics Center offers nearly 20 lifeguard certifications each year and more than 3,000 kids, as young as 4 years old get free swimming lessons.
Johnnie Means has been a swimming coach for 55 years. He credits a particular incident from his childhood as the reason behind his passion for swim safety.
“In my neighborhood, I knew of a kid that drowned and I was always cognizant of that. We shouldn’t have to have a situation like that where a kid just drowns 4 feet away from the bank,” Means said.
Unfortunately, child drownings happen far too often. Four kids have drowned in Harris County and 46 kids have drowned in the state of Texas so far in 2017.
“Kids fall in the water and this sort of thing and drown all the time, if they have some skills they have been taught, they can protect themselves and at least get out of the water and that’s very important,” Means said.
If you are anyone you know would like to enroll a child into a swim safety program check out the helpful links below.
Safe Kids of Greater Houston
City of Houston Aquatics
American Red Cross
Houston Swim Club Sharpstown
Boys and Girls Club