*Summer can be a time of fun, sun and relaxation but it’s also a season with it’s own dangers. In an effort to bring summer safety awareness to the forefront, I will be writing a weekly series of summer safety topics, starting with last week’s post about the importance of protecting children’s eyes from the sun.
The weather is warming up and that means more children will be playing outside, and at one point or another, that means near or in a pool, pond or lake.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list drowning as the second-leading cause of unintentional death among children age 1 to 14. Children age 1-3 are at the greatest risk. 90% of drownings occur in residential swimming pools and retention ponds near the home. Most were last seen in the home and had been out of sight for less than 5 minutes. The majority were in the care of one or both parents at the time and were not the result of parental negligence.
Startling statistics, but one thing really stands out to me: The majority were not the result of parental negligence. So that means it can happen to you, to me, to our friends and family. Most of us aren’t negligent parents. We want to protect our children and we always have the best intentions. But looking at these statistics, drownings happen under the care of the most responsible parents, in the smallest amount of time, which is why this is such an important topic.
Steps to prevent drownings include:
1. Barriers. Pool fencing can help prevent children from gaining access to the pool area. Back yard ponds can also be fenced in or a mesh cover can be used to cover them. Install a four-sided fence that completely separates the pool or pond from the house and play area of the yard. The fence should be at least 4 feet tall. Use self-latching gates that open outward, with latches out of children’s reach.
2. Life jackets. Whether swimming in a pool or at the lake, life jackets are a must. According to the CDC, in 2006 9 out of 10 who drowned in boating accidents were not wearing a life jacket. DO NOT use air-filled pool toys as a means for floatation or in place of life jackets. These are toys, not life-saving devices.
3. Watch. Designate an adult to watch a child in the bathtub, swimming in or playing near any pool or body of water. Remember, a drowning can happen in less time than it takes to answer the phone. The designated adult should not be involved in any other activity than watching the child(ren). That means no mowing the lawn, reading or talking on the phone while having the child(ren) in your care.
4. Learn CPR. You are the first responder should a child start drowning. In the time it takes for paramedics to arrive, you can have already saved your child’s life. The American Red Cross has classes in the metro area year-round.
5. Learn to swim. Take heed, however, that the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend this as a primary means of drowning prevention for children younger than 4. Classes can be taken at the local YMCA, or check your city’s community centers for class offerings.
6. Swim with a buddy. Make sure older children never swim alone. Using city pools or parks with lifeguards is also a way to enjoy pool activities with an extra layer of safety.
Let’s keep our children from becoming a tragic statistic this summer. It’s worth the extra effort to keep them safe so they can enjoy many summers to come.
-Erica Smith, Copy Editor