This is the time of year when tragedy strikes in our lakes and swimming pools. Always watch your children around water to prevent child drowning.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year approximately 800 children drown. Drowning is the leading cause of death among children ages one to three and the second leading cause among children under the age of 15. Drowning is quick and silent and children rarely make a splashing sound or call for help. A child who is underwater will lose consciousness after two minutes and suffer permanent brain damage within four to six minutes. The main cause of child drowning is poor supervision, it takes as much time for a child to fall into the water as it takes an adult to answer a cell phone or grab a towel. Preventing a tragedy requires multiple layers of protection; here are some safety guidelines for parents to follow.
- Always stay within arm’s reach of your child. If you need to leave the pool area, carry your child with you. Know where your child is at all times and if they are missing, check the pool area first.
- Use proper safety devices. Arm floaties and air tubes are not approved for safety and will not protect your child from drowning. If you are participating in water sports, insist that your child wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life preserver.
- Be wary of plastic or inflatable pools. If you do use a smaller baby pool, be sure to drain it after each use and do not leave it outside where it can accumulate rain or sprinkler water. Most parents believe that a small child can just stand up in a baby pool; however, if they fall and get water into their mouth, they can become scared and not know what to do.
- Surround your pool or hot tub on four sides with a fence that is at least five feet tall. Make sure that the gate leading to the pool is self-closing and self-latching and that the gate opens out. Never prop open a gate to the pool and do not leave chairs or benches outside of the fenced area that could be used to climb on to gain access to the gate latch.
- Set up several road blocks that lead out to the pool. Equip doors and windows with locks and alarms. Consider a floating alarm that goes off if the water in the pool is disturbed.
- Do not leave toys in the pool area that can entice children towards the pool. Clear beach balls, flotation devices, rafts and other items from the pool when you are finished swimming.
- Consider an anti-entrapment drain cover to prevent hair, jewelry and swimsuits from becoming tangled in the drain.
Help prevent these devastating drownings by always supervising your children around water, keep your kids within an arm’s reach and never leave them alone around water, not even for a minute.