Summer will be here before we know it.
From Julie Noble, Safe Kids Coordinator at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.
When the heat sets in, there’s often nothing more refreshing than a dip in the pool or gulf. Because of this, water safety is an essential thing both children and parents need to know.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drownings are a leading cause of injury death for young children ages 1-14, and drowning kills more children ages 1-4 than anything else except birth defects.
Most drownings in children ages 1-4 happen in swimming pools. Drowning can happen anytime, including when children are not expected to be near water, such as when they gain unsupervised access to pools.
This time of year, we see more and more children coming into our emergency departments due to drownings or non-fatal drownings.
The CDC states that for every child who dies from drowning, another eight receive emergency department care for non-fatal drowning, which can result in long-term health problems. More than 40% of drownings treated in emergency departments require hospitalization or transfer for further care (compared with 8% for all unintentional injuries). Non-fatal drowning injuries can cause brain damage and other serious outcomes, including long-term disability.
Parents and caregivers can play a key role in protecting their children from drowning.
- Learn life-saving skills. Everyone should know the basics of swimming (floating, moving through the water) and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
- Fence it off. Install a four-sided isolation fence, with self-closing and self-latching gates, around your swimming pool. This can help keep children away from the area when they aren’t supposed to be swimming. Pool fences should completely separate the house and play area from the pool.
- Make life jackets a must. Make sure kids wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets in and around natural bodies of water, such as lakes or the gulf, even if they know how to swim. U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets can be used in and around pools for weaker swimmers too.
- Be on the lookout. When kids are in or near water (including bathtubs), closely supervise them at all times. Because drowning happens quickly and quietly, adults watching kids in or near water should avoid distracting activities like playing cards, reading books, using the phone, and being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
These are simple steps that could have a huge impact on your child’s safety this summer.