It’s reached that point in springtime where we all start looking forward to re-opening our pools. We day-dream about spending days at a time lounging by the water, hopefully sipping some fruity drink with an umbrella in it. If you have children and a pool, you may want to take some time to brush up on your water safety guidelines before you start relaxing. What better way to kick off national water safety month 2014 than by reviewing some of these facts and sharing them with friends and family.
Lots of organizations like the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, and the American Red Cross help to promote water safety in May. Here are a few statistics to keep in mind from the CDC:
- There are approximately 10 deaths per day in the US caused by accidental drowning (non-boating related).
- About one in five people who drown are children younger than 14.
- For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency care for nonfatal submersion injuries.
- More than half of drowning victims treated in emergency situations require hospitalization or need further care.
- Nonfatal drowning often results in brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities.
- Nearly 80% of people who die from drowning are male.
- Children ages 1-4 have the highest drowning rates.
- Among children ages 1-4, most drownings occur in home swimming pools.
- Among those 1-14, fatal drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury related death, second only to car crashes.
- The drowning rate among children 5-14 for African Americans is three times higher than that of white children in the same age range.
A lot of factors contribute to drowning risk. First is lack of swimming ability, followed by lack of barriers, lack of close supervision, failure to wear life jackets, and proximity to bodies of water. Alcohol use by adolescents and adults is also involved in up to 70% of deaths associated with water recreation.
How to Prevent Accidents:
- Teach children water safety and swimming skills as early as possible. Kids under four who learn to swim reduce their drowning risk significantly.
- Appoint a “designated watcher” to monitor children during social gatherings at or near pools or other bodies of water.
- Always brief babysitters on water safety, emphasizing the need for constant supervision.
- Equip doors and windows that exit to pool area with alarms.
- Always have a phone nearby in case of an emergency. Time matters in these situations.
- If you have a pool, learn CPR and have instructions posted near the pool area for people who may not be familiar with it. Seconds count. The more quickly it’s started, the better the chance of improved outcomes.
- Keep rescue equipment poolside. Don’t wait for the paramedics to arrive because you will lose valuable life-saving seconds. Four to six minutes without oxygen can cause permanent brain damage or death.
- Keep a first aid kit poolside.
- Install four-sided isolation fencing, at least five feet high, equipped with self-closing and self-latching gates, that completely surrounds the pool and prevents direct access from the house and yard.
- Maintain constant visual contact with children in a pool or pool area. If a child is missing, check the pool first; seconds count in preventing death or disability.
- Don’t use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision. Never allow a young child in a pool without an adult.
- Don’t leave objects like toys that might attract a child into the pool and pool area.
- Don’t rely on swimming lessons, life preservers, or other equipment to make a child “water safe.”
- Never assume someone else is watching a child in a pool area.
- Don’t leave chairs or other items of furniture where a child could use them to climb into a fenced pool area.
- Don’t think you’ll hear a child who’s in trouble in the water; child drowning is often silent. Don’t expect to hear splashing or yelling to alert anyone that the child is in trouble.
- Be aware of shallow water blackout—make sure kids don’t hyperventilate before going under water or play games where they’re trying to hold their breath for long periods of time.
- If you’re going to go boating, wear a life jacket. Half of all boating accidents might be prevented with the use of life jackets.
- Know the weather conditions before swimming or boating. Know the meaning of and obey warnings represented by colored beach flags. Watch for dangerous waves and signs of rip currents. If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to shore. Once free of the current, swim diagonally toward shore.
If you or someone you know has a pool, make sure you share these safety tips with them for the upcoming summer season. You can learn more about water safety month by visiting watersafetymonth.org.