Red Cross: Toddler's death a tragic reminder about danger of pools

Posted at: 07/22/2013 6:18 PM | Updated at: 07/22/2013 6:36 PM
By: Steve Flamisch

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PITTSFIELD -- The apparent drowning of a toddler is another reminder about the danger of swimming pools.

Raquel Paris, 2, was found unresponsive at the bottom of her family's swimming pool on Victor St. at about 3:15 p.m. Saturday, according to a press release from the Berkshire County District Attorney's Office. Paris was pronounced dead at the hospital.

An autopsy was scheduled for Tuesday, according to the press release. No charges were filed.

While it was unclear Monday whether Paris was left unattended, an official at the American Red Cross of Northeastern New York said the child's death should serve as a wake-up call about pool safety.

"Whenever there are children present -- even older children -- there should always be an adult around," Thomas Lindberg, the local chapter's chief program officer, told NewsChannel 13. "Don't even run into the house, even for just a couple of seconds."

Children as young as six months of age should learn to swim, Lindberg said. His organization's "Learn to Swim" program recently ended for the season, but classes are still offered through the YMCA and other recreational centers.

At the YMCA in North Albany, two lifeguards were on duty Monday watching the children in the pool. Naomi McPeters said she and her partner were constantly counting the kids to make sure no one had slipped under the water unnoticed.

"We're always doing a head count, buddy checks every ten to fifteen minutes," McPeters said. "What we look for, for safety issues, is if a child is under the water for more than five or ten seconds. That's when we know there's a problem."

In Massachusetts and New York, any residential pool -- above-ground, in-ground, or inflatable -- that is capable of holding at least two feet of water must be surrounded by a fence or other barrier at least four feet high, according to state codes. Certain exemptions apply.

In New York, any pool that was constructed, installed, or substantially modified after December 14, 2006 must be equipped with an approved alarm, according to state codes.

Information for Vermont was not immediately available. 



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