From the desk of Shani Snell, Early Childhood Education Department Head:
According to the CDC, drownings are the leading cause of injury death for young children ages 1 to 4, and three children die every day as a result of drowning. I have witnessed several near drownings in my life and the main factor that saved these children was an adult nearby who was water aware. Here are a few water safety tips to keep in mind this summer:
- Always supervise children near water. All it takes is a few seconds for an accident to happen. Having a conversation or talking on the phone can sometimes be all the distraction it takes to not realize a child is in danger. This includes not only pools but also, bathtubs, toilet bowls, ornamental ponds, hot tubs, and lakes.
- Ask for permission first. Teach your child to always ask permission before going near water. You want them to stop and think. This also gives you the opportunity to access the water area and determine if it’s safe.
- Flotation vests. This is your best investment. Choose a properly fitting vest with a strap between the legs and head support — the collar will keep the child’s head up and face out of the water. Water wings and swim belts are not effective against drowning.
- Water watcher. A water watcher is a person designated to watch swimmers during a particular time frame. This is like a lifeguard at a large pool. Several adults can take turns being the water watcher. Drowning can be quick and quiet.
- Swimming lessons. Children ages 1 and over can attend swimming lessons on a yearly basis. Use the first month of each summer as a time to tune up and improve their swimming skills. Even a child who is a strong swimmer can get in trouble under certain situations and still requires constant supervision.
- Install a 4–sided fence around home pools. This is your first line of defense if a child “slips away” and heads straight for the pool. This fence should be at least 4 feet tall with a self-closing latch.
- Learn CPR. In the event of a near drowning, this could save a child’s life.
- Education. Consider enrolling in “Home Pool Essentials” through the American Red Cross to ensure that your home pool or hot tub is maintained properly and safety checked.
Summer time is fun and water play can be a great source of exercise and learning for young children. Have a great time but above all, keep your family safe!