Every year nearly 1000 children die from drowning in the U.S. It is the leading cause of death in children ages one through four, making up about a third of the almost 4000 water related deaths. Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional deaths each year in kids under fourteen years old. Not all drowning victims die. Some drowning victims survive and are left with permanent brain damage, possibly resulting in long term disabilities, paralysis, or even coma.
We, as always, want our kids to have fun but must put safety first. No matter if it involves kids and water fun, having a get together near water, or maybe there is water close to our home, we must always be thinking safety first. It only takes ten seconds for a child to drown. It can happen very quietly without even making a sound to draw your (or anyone else’s) attention. We have to think about safety anytime there is water nearby that our kids can potentially reach.
Eighty-four percent of drownings involving younger children up to age five happen in their own homes. Your home holds dangers for your child that you may not think about. A bathtub is common sense, but, how often would you worry about the toilets or even a bucket. These are a just a few common threats to our smaller children under a year old.
Children this age can actually drown in less than two inches of water. With that said, we also have to remember sinks, inflatable pools, and fountains. Also, when it rains, standing water around the house can even be dangerous to our little ones.
Every year, more than 350 children under five years old dies from drowning in pools across the nation. And, statistics show that the majority of those were not even supposed to be around (let alone in) a pool. In fact, nearly half of these children were last seen in the house.
A child can die quietly and quickly (10-25 seconds) surrounded by adults without anyone hearing or seeing a thing. Most of the time, each adult assumes someone else is watching the children. Keep YOUR eyes on your child at ALL times! Also, we tend to trust water wings and floaties a little too much and take our eyes away from our child for a few seconds here or a minute there. They are not life preservers! A small child can slip through.
Of course, children of all ages are at risk around all types of water scenarios. But, kids in their teens are most likely to drown in water parks, lakes, ponds, and beaches. Second only to toddlers, teenagers between fifteen and nineteen years old have the highest drowning related fatality rate. In other words, the risk of your child drowning goes down after age four or five but then goes up again in their teenage years.
A lot of teens put too much faith in their swimming skills and put themselves in dangerous situations. They may try to impress their friends and find that they are not as experienced as they thought. Also, they like to jump or dive in from high places and sometimes misjudge or just can’t see the rocks underneath the water.
Our teens think they can make good judgment calls, but, they still need our supervision to ensure their safety. However, at that age, we can’t be with them ALL the time so we have to make sure they follow certain rules and guidelines when they are allowed to be unsupervised making decisions for themselves.
No matter how many safety measures you take, the number one, most important safety measure you have is your supervision. This holds true for the bathtub, pool, or natural water. There is no better way to make sure our children are safe than to watch them closely and personally. Nothing else is quite as good. NEVER leave an older child to care for a younger sibling, cousin, friend, etc…..
With the younger children, keep them in arms reach at all times. You should always be able to reach out and touch your child. Make sure your child does not wander into the water or try swimming alone. Teach your child about the current in lakes, rivers, and oceans so that this is not an unfamiliar hazard. At home, empty bathtubs, buckets, containers, and little kiddie pools. Turn kiddie pools upside down after use.
If you see your child (or any other child) drowning, follow these basic first aid steps immediately while having someone call 911:
This is just a guideline for parents but I strongly encourage all families to get professional CPR training.
We can’t always have eyes on our swimming pool making sure there are no curious children about to make a mistake and get themselves in a bad, possibly deadly situation. We need to be sure no child gets in or around the pool unsupervised.
Portable Pool Fences can be a good way to keep kids (and animals) away from the pool and are a good alternative to permanent fencing in that they can be easily removed when ever you are ready.
Pool Alarms are good for letting you know if there are unwanted visitors in the pool. There are a number of different types of pool alarms to choose from. Check out my article on pool alarms (Pool Patrol alarms plus The Safety Turtle wrist and collar bands).
Flotation devices, or floaties, are not meant to take the place of a life jacket, but, they do play an important part in getting your child comfortable enough in the water to have fun and learn how to swim. When choosing a flotation device, it is important to choose a device that is the right fit for your child.
Your little one must be comfortable for long periods of time and be able to move freely without being too loose as to ride up around the neck. For infants, it should have padded head support that keeps the baby’s head out of the water. It should also have a strap between the legs keeping your child from slipping through.
There are a variety of styles to choose from: floating swimsuits, arm bands, back floats, inflatable animals, and of course, the life vest. It is worth the effort to investigate them to find out which is the right style and fit for your child to feel comfortable and safe so he/she can have fun and learn to swim.
Keep in mind, these are not meant to take the place of a life jacket. Floaties are meant to assist with fun and learning in the pool, but, are not suitable for all water activities. In my next post I will be reviewing safety devices for the little ones, as well as for the pool itself.