Water Safety Tips
Yesterday my daughter finished her intensive lifeguard training, passed her tests and became a certified lifeguard. I am so proud of her, but it once again makes me concerned about water safety and childhood drowning. When I turned on the news this morning there was a report of a little girl who drowned in the DFW Metroplex. If you follow my column, you will notice I run this every spring. I urge other moms to read these tips on water safety and keep your children safe this summer.
This weekend is Memorial Day weekend – the “unofficial” start of summer. Chances are as the temperatures begin to climb, the kids will want to jump in the pool, pond, or lake to cool off. I don’t want to scare you (well, a little) but here are the important statistics to know when it comes to kids and water:
- In 2004, of all children 1-4 years old who died, 26% died from drowning (CDC 2006). Fatal drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14 years (CDC 2005) –U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- It is estimated that for each drowning death, there are 1 to 4 nonfatal submersions serious enough to result in hospitalization. Children who still require cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) at the time they arrive at the emergency department have a poor prognosis, with at least half of survivors suffering significant neurologic impairment.–American Academy of Pediatrics
- 19% of drowning deaths involving children occur in public pools with certified lifeguards present. –Drowning Prevention Foundation
- A swimming pool is 14 times more likely than a motor vehicle to be involved in the death of a child age 4 and under. –Orange County California Fire Authority
- An estimated 5,000 children ages 14 and under are hospitalized due to unintentional drowning-related incidents each year; 15 percent die in the hospital and as many as 20 percent suffer severe, permanent neurological disability. – National Safety Council
- Of all preschoolers who drown, 70 percent are in the care of one or both parents at the time of the drowning and 75 percent are missing from sight for five minutes or less. –Orange County, CA, Fire Authority
Water Safety Tips from our friends at the International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF)
So, now that I have your attention, I’d like to give some water safety tipsSo I’ll share (again) some water safety tips with you:
- Teach children water safety and swimming skills as early as possible.
- Always brief babysitters on water safety, emphasizing the need for constant supervision.
- Appoint a “designated watcher” to monitor children during social gatherings at or near pools.
- Equip doors and windows that exit to a pool area with alarms.
- Install a poolside phone, preferably a cordless model, with emergency numbers programmed into speed-dial.
- Post CPR instructions and learn the procedures.
- Keep rescue equipment poolside. Don’t wait for the paramedics to arrive because you will lose valuable life-saving seconds. Four to six minutes without oxygen can cause permanent brain damage or death.
- Keep a first aid kit at poolside.
- Install four-sided isolation fencing, at least five feet high, equipped with self-closing and self-latching gates, that completely surrounds the pool and prevents direct access from the house and yard.
- Maintain constant visual contact with children in a pool or pool area. If a child is missing, check the pool first; seconds count in preventing death or disability.
- Don’t use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision. Never allow a young child in a pool without an adult.
- Don’t leave objects such as toys that might attract a child in the pool and pool area.
- Never prop the gate to a pool area open.
- Don’t rely on swimming lessons, life preservers, or other equipment to make a child “water safe.”
- Never assume someone else is watching a child in a pool area.
- Don’t leave chairs or other items of furniture where a child could use them to climb into a fenced pool area.
- Don’t think you’ll hear a child who’s in trouble in the water; child drowning is a silent death, with no splashing to alert anyone that the child is in trouble
Water Safety Tips from the Pool Safely “Simple Steps Save Lives” Program:
1. Staying close, being alert and watching children in and around the pool
- Never leave a child unattended in a pool or spa and always watch your child when he or she is in or near water
- Teach children basic water safety tips
- Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments
- Have a telephone close by when you or your family is using a pool or spa
- If a child is missing, look for him or her in the pool or spa first
- Share safety instructions with family, friends and neighbors
2. Learning and practicing water safety skills
- Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim
- Learn to perform CPR on children and adults, and update those skills regularly
- Understand the basics of life-saving so that you can assist in a pool emergency
3. Having appropriate equipment for your pool or spa
- Install a four-foot or taller fence around the pool and spa and use self-closing and self-latching gates; ask your neighbors to do the same at their pools.
- Install and use a lockable safety cover on your spa.
- If your house serves as a fourth side of a fence around a pool, install door alarms and always use them. For additional protection, install window guards on windows facing pools or spas.
- Install pool and gate alarms to alert you when children go near the water
- Ensure any pool and spa you use has compliant drain covers, and ask your pool service provider if you do not know
- Maintain pool and spa covers in good working order
- Consider using a surface wave or underwater alarm
Find more tips for pool & spa owners at poolsafely.gov.
Have a great and safe summer!
From one Mommy to Another,
Jenny Wilson is a mother of three and the Sr. Editor/Marketing Director of eParisExtra.com. She teaches a Mommy & Me class at Central Presbyterian Day School, serves on the boards of the Paris Community Theatre as the Children’s Theatre Coordinator , the Children’s Advocacy Center as vice-president, the Parent Association Boards of Aikin Elementary and PJH, and is a member of the Paris ISD School Board of Trustees. Mrs. Wilson is a Sunday school teacher at Holy Cross Episcopal Church. She also is a certified yoga instructor and teaches yoga classes 3 days a week.