Friday, July 8, 2011

Water Safety: Tips for Preventing Tragedy

This week's article was supposed to be on autumn getaway spots, but after hearing about a few recent drowning scares from family and friends, I felt it was more important to take this opportunity to address water safety. 

Summer and water play go hand in hand; but where there is water there are always hazards, especially for young children. Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death among children ages 1 to 4 years*. Children can drown in as little as an inch of water, and it takes only a few seconds to happen.  And drowning isn't the hysterical, screaming, splashing, loud, drawn-out event we've all been trained to expect by TV; as this must read article clearly demonstrates, drowning is actually very quiet, quick, and difficult to identify to the untrained observer. 

In addition to the helpful article referred to above, the following water safety tips may help prevent drowning:
  • Vigilant supervision - a MUST whenever your child is near any water (as unlikely as it may seem, even a  large bucket of water can pose a drowning hazard to a toddler).
  • Swim lessons - without a doubt one of the greatest returns on investment there is.  Children gain familiarity with the water and learn basics such as treading water and floating.
  • Floatation devices - no matter how strong a swimmer your child may be, if your attention is divided or your child will be swimming more than an arm's length away from you, a floatation device is a good idea.  For children who are not strong swimmers or any young person going out in a boat, a Coast Guard approved floatation device should be mandatory.
  • Open water - rivers, lakes, oceans and other open bodies of water can have dangerous currents or sudden drop-offs; swim only in areas with lifeguards where conditions have been determined to be reasonably safe.  Discourage diving in any body of water unless the area is designated as safe for diving. Swim only in posted areas and obey posted signage. 
  • Pool safety - never allow children to swim unsupervised. Discourage diving. Keep all pools enclosed by a locked fence that cannot be climbed to prevent accidental access (hot-tubs should be covered and locked when not in use). Be sure there is a perimeter alarm to alert you if a child wanders into the pool area unsupervised.
  • Be prepared - learn infant and child CPR and keep a phone nearby in case of an emergency.
Have a safe, happy, and healthy summer.
-Destination Mom

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