There’s nothing quite like a barbecue and pool party in the summer. As school lets out for summer, you can be sure families and communities will be opening their swimming pools for months of water fun!
Of course, when playing near water, it’s so important to be mindful of the possible dangers that go along with it. Every day, about 10 people die from unintentional drowning. 20% of those were ages 14 and younger. It is the 5th cause of unintentional death in the United States. 80% of drowning victims were male and children (ages 1-4) have the highest rate of drowning. Additionally, most drownings occur in residential swimming pools (cdc.gov). With these statistics in mind, please take into consideration the following when enjoying the summer sun and water with your family:
Never leave a child unsupervised near a pool or body of water. Just because a child has had swimming lessons or swims regularly, does not mean that they won’t drown. Children need to be watched while swimming. Additionally, life jackets or flotation devices are no substitute for actually watching your children.
Swim with a buddy. Don’t swim alone!
Fence the pool area. If you have a pool, install a fence with a gate. Self-latching and self-closing gates can be tricky for small children to open.
Use a Pool Alarm. Attach a small alarm to the fence around the pool for added security. There are even alarms for children (or pets) that cannot swim. These alarms look like a wristwatch. The parent puts the wristband around the child’s wrist and locks it. If the wristband goes underwater, it sounds an alarm. Companies like Safety Turtle specialize in products that enhance water safety. The Safety Turtle website has several products available that protect children against water related injuries. http://www.safetyturtle.com/
Learn CPR. Many YMCA’s and other local organizations, have CPR and First Aid classes during the year. It’s a good idea for anyone that has children to learn CPR and basic first aid. You just never know when you’ll need lifesaving information.
Learn the signs of drowning. Mario Vittone, USCG Aviation Survival Technician, 1st Class, contributed to an article in On Scene, The Journal of US Coast Guard Search and Rescue (www.hsi.com). The following points are taken from this article in an effort to identify what drowning actually looks like:
- Most times, people that are drowning cannot call out for help.
- Their mouths go under the water and then reappear above the water. Their mouths are not above the water long enough for them to breathe.
- They cannot wave for help. Their bodies are in “survival” mode, and thus, they are trying to keep their mouths above water to breathe.
- They can’t help themselves “not drown.” Their bodies are instinctively trying to keep the mouth above water to breathe, so all effort and energy goes to that purpose.
- They don’t kick their legs and are, essentially “standing” in the water. If not rescued, they will only last in this position for 20-60 seconds before going underwater.
While this blog post is, by no means, a comprehensive list of guidelines, it is a good start to keeping your family safe. We fully encourage you to review the following websites for more information that can help keep your family safe when spending time near the pool or any body of water.