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Death rates for drowning exceed those from falls, fires, pedal cycle injuries, pedestrian injuries, and poisoning.
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 a drowning tragedy:
- Vigilant supervision - a MUST whenever your child is near any water (as unlikely as it may seem, even a simple bucket of water can pose a drowning hazard to a toddler). Constant awareness also means preventing access to ungated or open bodies of water when traveling away from home (hotels, rental condos, etc.); guest accommodations are best secured with childproofing devices, such as those found in the Travel-Tot Childproofing Kit, which can help prevent accidental entry to accessible bodies of water.
- 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.