How to Keep Your Children Safe this Summer
As we end May, which is National Water Safety Month, and head into the summer months of June, July, and August, I wonder how many of us are ready for the increased risk pools and water pose to our babies, toddlers and young children.
Let’s review some statistics.
(Compiled from Safekids.org unless otherwise cited.)
- Every year since 1999, over 815 children, on average, under the age of 14 have died as a result of unintentional drowning.
- Every year since 2001, more than 3,700 children, on average, sustained nonfatal near drowning-related injuries.
- “Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 14 and under.”
- “From 2006 to 2008, each year there have been approximately 5,100 pool- or spa-related submersion injuries treated at emergency departments and 383 pool- or spa-related deaths among children ages 14 and under.”
- “Children under the age of 5 … represent a majority (76 percent) of reported fatalities and almost 80 percent of emergency department-treated submersion injuries.”
- 84 percent of drowning deaths of children under the age of 5 happen at home.
- Swimming pools are the most common site for drowning to occur for children aged 1 to 4 years.
- In 2008, children under the age of 4 accounted for 65 percent of drownings, the highest drowning-related death rate, more than twice the rate of any other age group.
- Children from low-income families are four times more likely to drown because low-income families live in riskier environments, don’t have the financial resources to ensure proper safety precautions, and have more difficulty getting necessary medical care.
12 Pool Safety Tips
It is a common misconception that children can only drown in swimming pools. “Babies and young children can drown in as little as two inches of water. Hundreds of children have drowned in bathtubs, garden ponds, toilets and five-gallon buckets.” (Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Foundation)
For the purposes of this article, though, we will simply look at ways to prevent drowning associated with pools, and provide tips for what you should do to prepare for the potential of a drowning, whether in your pool or someone else’s.
Pool Safety Tip #1 – Children are ready for swimming lessons by about age 4. Good pool safety habits start early.
Pool Safety Tip #2 – Pools, both soft- and hard-sided, should be surrounded on all four sides by a fence that is at least four feet high. Also, there should be no direct access to the pool from the house.
Pool Safety Tip #3 – Get a powered safety cover and/or add alarms to doors leading to the pool. Never assume that safety covers are a good substitute for a fence.
Pool Safety Tip #4 – Make sure hot tubs are covered and locked when not in use.
Pool Safety Tip #5 – Learn infant and child CPR and post instructions.
Pool Safety Tip #6 – Keep a cell phone or other cordless phone by the pool with emergency numbers programmed in and posted nearby.
Pool Safety Tip #7 – If a child appears to be missing, check the pool first.
Pool Safety Tip #8 – Make sure you have the appropriate pool-side rescue gear: life buoy, life jackets, shepherd’s crook, first aid kit.
Pool Safety Tip #9 – Make sure all pool toys are put away and, preferably, locked away when pool time is done. Toys will draw children to the pool.
Pool Safety Tip #10 – Maintain constant visual contact with children in a pool and never assume that someone else is watching your child. (National Water Safety Month)
Pool Safety Tip #11 – Do not use flutter boards, water wings, inner tubes or other flotation devices as a substitute for supervision.
Pool Safety Tip #12 – “Teach your child to wait for your ‘OK’ before getting into the water.” (Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Foundation)
Many people make the mistake of thinking that they will be able to hear a child if he or she is drowning. Many times, a child will simply slip into the water without any splash at all. It’s important that we are vigilant in supervising our children’s pool time.
Darlene Oakley is a freelance writer for EmpowHER.com.
Water Safety Tips. National Water Safety Month. Web. May 23, 2012.
Drowning Prevention. Safe Kids USA. Web. May 23, 2012.
Drowning Prevention Fact Sheet. Safe Kids USA. Web. May 23, 2012.
High Risk Fact Sheet. Safe Kids USA. Web. May 23, 2012.
Water Safety for Children Birth to 5 years. Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Foundation. Web. May 23, 2012.
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