Why is water safety and learning to swim essential for kids (even infants)?
Nearly 1,000 kids die each year by drowning. It is the number two cause of accidental death in children ages 15 and under. What’s worse, in 10% of drownings, adults are nearby and will watch it
happen without realizing it. This is because drowning does not look like drowning. The waving, splashing and yelling you see on TV is rarely seen in real life. In fact, drowning is almost always deceptively quiet. It can happen quickly, even in the presence of lifeguards.
Since drowning does not look like you expect it to, how do you know if it’s happening?
One way to tell if someone is drowning is to ask them “are you okay?” If they can’t answer or if they return a blank stare, you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them.outh is alternately sinking above and below the water’s surface, but not long enough to breathe or call out for help. This struggle will only last from 20 to 60 seconds.
Also, look for these signs of drowning:
- Head low in the water, mouth at water level
- Head tilted back with mouth open
- Eyes glassy, empty, unable to focus, or closed
- Hair over forehead or eyes
- Not using legs—vertical
- Hyperventilating or gasping
- Trying to swim in a particular direction but getting nowhere
- Trying to roll over on their back
- Appear to be climbing an invisible ladder
- Remember that children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, go to them immediately and find out why!
What are some tips for adults to keep kids safe in and around water?
- Closely supervise children while they’re in and around water. Never leave your child unattended or in the care of another young child. With infants, toddlers and weak swimmers,
you should be within an arm’s length. Small children can drown in as little as one inch of water. Even with older children, don’t rely on the lifeguard — your child needs your undivided
- Use proper safety devices. Young children and inexperienced swimmers should wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water. All children should wear a life jacket when riding on a boat. Arm floaties and air-filled tubes can deflate and aren’t designed for safety.
- Select swimming areas carefully. When you’re at a beach or a lake, make sure your child swims only in areas designated for swimming with lifeguards present. Be aware of uneven surfaces,
river currents, ocean undertow and changing weather.
- Teach safety basics. Teach your child the safety rules such as: no running near a pool, always ask permission before going in the water, and never play or swim near drains or suction outlets. Don’t allow your child to jump in the water until you know its depth and any underwater hazards.
- Safeguard your pool. Owning a pool is a major responsibility. You’ll need to know where your child is at all times. Install a 4-5 feet high, four-sided fence or gate around your pool or hot tub.
The gate should open out and be self-closing and self-latching. Equip it (and any doors that lead to the pool area) with a lock and alarm. Cover your pool with a rigid safety cover when you’re not using it. Immediately empty and store inflatable pools out of children’s reach.
- Designate a pool watcher during parties. Gatherings with multiple adults and kids around a pool can be dangerous. People think somebody else is watching because there are so many people. Designate an adult to ONLY watch the pool — no socializing, eyes on the water at all times. When you take turns, get another adult’s verbal okay before you step away.
- Enroll your child in swim lessons. Participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning among young children. Make sure everyone in your family learns to swim as well.
- Be prepared for an emergency. Have a phone close by in case you need to call for help. Parents and caregivers should take a first aid and CPR course to learn how to prevent and respond to emergencies.