By Catherine Powell
Image courtesy Pixabay
When it gets hot, many families like to head to the beach or a swimming pool to cool off. While getting in the water is a great way to beat the heat, it’s also a danger zone for children. Like it or not, drowning is the number two cause of accidental death for kids aged 5-15 and the number one cause for children aged 1-4. Of the approximately 750 children who drown every year, half do so within 25 yards of a parent or other responsible adult. If you want to keep your kids safe in the water, here’s what you need to know.
- Teach your children to swim. – It’s a fact that toddlers who take swimming lessons are 88% less likely to drown. A study was conducted by the National Institute of Health that concluded that children aged 1-4 who participated in formal swimming lessons increased their chances of survival in swimming pool incidents dramatically. The same goes for older children as well.
- Teach your kids the rules for pools. – By the time your child reaches age 5, he or she needs to be taught the rules of proper pool etiquette. These include no running on the pool apron, only enter the water with the approval of an adult, no diving, no food or beverages, and how to recognize where the deep end of the pool happens to be. As well as teaching and testing a child’s ability to swim or dog paddle, a child needs to know what to do if they fall in the pool, and how to signal for assistance.
- How effective are flotation devices? – While water wings or lifejackets are a great way to help keep children from sinking to the bottom, they aren’t necessarily going to keep them from drowning. Sometimes flotation devices will actually endanger a child, especially if not worn properly. Lifejackets tend to be top-heavy making it difficult for a child to roll onto his or her back if they should fall facedown. All it takes is one inch of water to drown a toddler.
- Never take your eyes off your kids for a minute when they’re in the water. – As I mentioned before, half of all children who drown do so within sight of an adult. All it takes is a moment of inattention on the part of a parent or nanny for a child to begin to drown. Many times, the first inkling that a child is in trouble in the water is the realization that they are missing, and by this time it can be too late.
- Don’t have a false sense of security. – Even if your child knows how to swim, don’t for a minute assume that drowning is an impossibility. Even Olympic gold medal swimmers can drown. Teaching a child to swim is no guarantee of safety. Only an alert adult can assure the safety of children in the water. That’s why they station lifeguards at the beach.
- Drowning doesn’t look like it does on TV. – If you’ve ever seen a movie or TV show that depicts drowning, you no doubt expect a victim to wave their hands and shout for help when they get in trouble in the water. But that’s not what actually happens. Once a person starts to drown, all their attention will be riveted on trying to reach the surface to grab a breath of air. This guarantees they won’t have time to wave for help and it absolutely precludes being able to shout for assistance. All that usually happens is they paddle frantically to try to stay afloat with their arms parallel to the water. When their head bobs to the surface, it will be to take a breath, after which their mouth will submerge once more. After a minute or so, they sink beneath the surface without reappearing.
- Surf, Sand, and Sorrow – As dangerous as a swimming pool can be to a child, the seashore is ten times more perilous. That’s because there are more hazards to contend with at the beach. While swimming pools have the shallow and deep end marked, at the beach the depth can increase dramatically without warning. The seashore also has an undertow and rip currents that can drag a child out to sea. While many beachgoers dread an encounter with a shark, encounters with them is much less likely than those with stinging jellyfish.
- Can you recognize if your child is having difficulty in the water? – If you have kids, you know that they get really animated whenever they get in a pool or wade into the ocean. The first sign of trouble in the water can be counterintuitive, since a child who is having difficulty will be extraordinarily quiet. That’s because we’re hardwired to do all we can to keep our heads above the water. If you see your child start to do a silent dog paddle, that’s when you need to get in the water to pull them to safety.
- Do you know how to rescue someone who is drowning? – Depending on the depth of the water and the panic induced by the onset of drowning, it’s quite possible that those who attempt to rescue a victim may become victims themselves. Children and adults who realize they are drowning have been known to kick, scratch and claw those who come to their assistance. So frantic are they to breathe that those who are in the early stages of drowning may inadvertently force their rescuers underwater. That’s why they train lifeguards to dive under and behind a drowning victim to avoid being drown themselves. If you can’t use a pole or rope to pull a drowning victim to safety, and there is no life ring or flotation device to toss to them, you need to learn how to safely rescue someone in the water. Below is a video that shows you how to do it right.
- How to resuscitate a drowning victim. – If you pull a drowning victim out of the water and he or she isn’t breathing, do you know what to do to save their lives? The first thing is to get them out of the water onto their back on a flat surface. If you can’t see their chest rise and fall, you’ll need to turn them onto their side to allow water to drain from the mouth and nose. If they don’t start breathing within 10-seconds, it’s time to start mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. While you’ll want to summon emergency responders, unless they’re at arm’s length the victim could die if you wait too long to resume respiration. The proper way to perform mouth-to-mouth and CPR can be found in the video below.
Catherine Powell is the owner of A Plus All Florida, Insurance in Orange Park, Florida. To find out more about saving money on all your insurance needs, check out her website at http://aplusallfloridainsuranceinc.com/