Summer is almost here! Once Memorial Day hits, pools around the country will be filled with young children. The number of children drowning skyrockets during the warmer months. Since the beginning of the decade, an average of more than 800 children 14 years and younger have died as a result of unintentional drowning each year. Also, during that time span an average of nearly 4000 children sustained near drowning-related injuries each year. Follow these tips to keep your kids safe around water.
*In-ground public pools are not the only places that drownings tend to occur. Pools that pose the greatest risk of entrapment are children’s public wading pools, hot tubs, or other pools that have flat drain grates or a single main drain system. Teach your kids never to play or swim near drains or suction outlets. Install protection to prevent entrapment if you own a pool or hot tub.
*Actively supervise your kids around water at all time. Even if it is just a small wading pool in your backyard. Have your cell phone nearby to call for help in an emergency.
*If you own a pool, make sure it has a four-sided fence and a child-proof gate to prevent a child from wandering into the pool area unsupervised. Hot tubs should be covered and locked at all times when not in use.
*A door alarm to a pool area comes in handy to alert you if a child does wander into a pool area unsupervised.
*Teach your children never to go near a pool or body of water without you or an adult present.
*Teach your children how to swim … whether this is through swimming lessons or you showing them skills, it’s important to teach kids how to tread water, float, and swim to shore or the edge of the pool if needed.
*Learn CPR. If you learn it and are prepared, you’ll likely never need it. Don’t find yourself unprepared in an emergency situation.
*If you are gearing up to head out to the lake or another body of open water, always have your child wear a life jacket approved by the US Coast Guard. The life jacket should fit snugly and not allow the child’s chin or ears to slip through the neck opening.
And here is a great resource of water safety and tips on preventing all types of injuries in kids. Be safe this summer, have fun … and enjoy the water!!
Rachel Brewer, MD