Summer is here, and families everywhere are packing up their sunscreen and towels and heading to the pool, lake or beach in order to cool off. Pools are a great spot for families to relax and have fun, but they can also be dangerous. Drowning is the number one cause of injury-related death among children between 1 and 4 years old, and swimming pools are the most common site for those drownings to occur. To help protect children this summer and keep the water fun and safe, follow these simple water safety tips.
Active Supervision: Designate a Water Watcher
A child can drown in the time it takes to answer a phone call. Designate at least one responsible adult to actively supervise children in and around water. The designated watcher must not leave the pool, beach or lakeside at any time without a replacement, and they should refrain from anything that prevents them from giving their full attention such as phone calls, text messages, reading or other distractions. Wearing a Water Watcher tag can help parents be clear on who is taking the responsibility at any time. Download your own Water Watcher’s tag HERE
Enroll your child in Swim Lessons
It is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that all children ages 4 and up should take swimming lessons. It has been shown that 1 to 4 year olds with formal swimming instruction may be less likely to drown, but every child is different, so enroll children in swimming lessons when you feel they are ready.
Don’t Rely on Swimming Aids
Remember that swimming aids such as water wings or noodles are fun toys for kids, but they should never be used in place of a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD).
Know the Signs of Drowning
Drowning isn’t always noticeable. Someone who is drowning will not be able to yell for help or wave their arms for attention, so it is important to always supervise your child and recognize the signs of distress. A drowning person will be upright but will not seem to be using their legs to kick, and they will press their arms outwards and downwards onto the surface of the water. Someone who is drowning will also have their head tilted back, mouth open, and may have their hair covering their forehead and eyes.
You never know when an accident may happen, and it can help parents to know they’ll be prepared. If you’re not already CPR certified, enroll in a class, it can save someone’s life. The American Red Cross, National Safety Council, and the American Heart Association all offer CPR courses. You can also check with your work, local hospitals, places of worship, or the YMCA to see if they offer any CPR classes.
Check Drain Covers
Drain entrapments occur when the force of a pool’s suction holds a person against a pool or spa drain. If you have a home pool or spa, make sure your drain cover follows safety regulations and install a safety vacuum-release system. When out at public pools, teach children to not play by drains.
Make sure backyard pools have four sided fencing at least four feet tall with a self-closing, self-latching gate. You may also consider installing an alarm for the gate to your pool to let you know if children are attempting to enter the pool area. Families can also invest in a pool cover to protect a child from falling in. Barriers are not all childproof though. If your child is missing, always check the pool first.
Talk to your Child about Water Safety
Teach your children about important water safety rules:
- Always have an adult with you when you go swimming. Never go near water alone.
- Always ask permission before going in the water.
- If a toy falls in the pool, ask a grownup to get it for you.
- Don’t have breath-holding contests in the water.
- If you see someone in danger or who needs help, don’t go in after them. Throw something for them and go get help.
For more information about pool safety visit: http://www.safekids.org/water-safety