By Michael Kelley
Senior Manager of Safety and Loss Control
I’ve seen too many stories in the news lately on drowning deaths. As we return to swimming season, this is a good time to take note of water safety issues, especially where children are concerned. May also marks National Drowning Prevention Month so let’s all take the time to be cautious (while still having fun) around bodies of water.
The most obvious tip is to learn to swim. Children should start swim lessons as early as six months of age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that drowning is the second leading cause of death among young people aged 1 to 14. The CDC also states that drowning is the fifth leading cause of death for people of all ages, so people of all ages should take the time to learn how to swim. Many facilities offer adult swim lessons, so check your local listings for classes.
Swimmers should use the buddy system and always try to have someone along if you plan to be in the water. Children should always have an adult supervising when they are in swimming pools and natural bodies of water, and even bathtubs. Children should also wear life jackets instead of “noodles” or inner tubes as safety devices. The CDC also recommends that adults avoid distracting activities such as reading books or talking or texting on the phone. Adults should stay close enough to reach out and touch young children at all times and should avoid alcoholic beverages while supervising young people.
Adults also should get certified in CPR. To find a Red Cross-certified class, visit http://www.redcross.org/take-a-class.
Let’s do everything we can to make this a safe swim season.
Drowning Prevention & Water Safety Tips
- Create a verbal cue for your toddler or child that must be given by you before he or she can enter the pool.
- Never allow your baby/toddler in the pool without a swim diaper.
- Create a process the child must go through before entering a pool such as putting on a swim diaper, a swimsuit and applying sunscreen.
- Never use floatation devices or water wings when swimming or when teaching kids to swim.
- Children should learn to swim without goggles. Teach your children to open their eyes under water; if they fall in they can find the side of the pool or a step and get out safely.
- For very young children practice having them put their entire face under water in the bathtub and blow bubbles to build their comfort with water.
- Create a water safety plan for your family and have water emergency drills with your kids covering how to recognize the signs of someone struggling in water and what to do in this type of emergency.
- Make sure your guests and kids’ friends know your pool rules before they go outside and get in the pool.
- Start swim lessons at 6 months of age and continue them year-round at a US Swim School member location.
- Always make sure your children wear life jackets on boats, personal watercraft and in open bodies of water.
Tips from Sue Mackie, executive director of the United States Swim School Association. Visit usswimschools.org for more information.