Spending time in the pool can be fun, but parents need to be extra vigilant so that accidents can be prevented. Fatal drowning is considered as the second leading cause of accidental deaths in children from 1 to 14 years old. And most young kids who drowned were in the care of one or both parents, but had only been out of sight for less than five minutes. With these alarming findings by the CDC, there is no doubt that parents need to take necessary measures, so that fatal and non-fatal drowning incidents can be prevented.
It is vital that children swim with an adult’s supervision at all times. If your child is in the water, do not entertain distractions like phone calls, and never attempt to leave your child unsupervised for even a few minutes. A child can drown in less than 2 minutes, after the head is submerged in water. Although many foam toys like water wings, or inner tubes can help children float on water, these are not designed to keep them safe. Thus, parents should never think twice in choosing life jackets over these flotation devices.
After swimming, parents should also make sure that flotation devices, and other toys are removed from the pool and surrounding areas. These may entice a child to enter the pool area, which puts the child at risk for falling in the pool. Accidental falls in the swimming pool have led to many drowning, and near drowning incidents in children.
If you have a swimming pool at home, it is very important that the pool is surrounded by a fence of at least 4 feet tall. The fence should have no gaps that are wider than 4 inches, and the gates should be self-closing and self-latching. It is also very important that the latches could not be reached by children. You may even have automatic door locks or alarms installed, so that you can really monitor if anyone enters the pool area.
Parents should also encourage children to follow general safety rules, while enjoying time in the water. Do not allow your kids to roughly play while in the pool area. Pushing or shoving in the pool may get out of hand, and it may lead to accidents. You may also teach your kids how to use depth markers, so that they are guided in terms of water depth. Let your kids know that it is never safe to dive off at the sides of the pool. Diving in shallow waters may lead to serious injuries.
You may also teach your child how to swim, by the time he turns five years old. Younger children are still not developmentally ready for swimming lessons. And even if your child knows how to swim, do not immediately assume that he is already safe in the water. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics does not even recommend swimming lessons, as a key measure in preventing drowning incidents. Parental supervision and other safety measures are still necessary, so that accidents can be prevented.
The next time that your kids spend time in the water, never turn your back. A minute or two spent on a phone call may seem so short, but it may be all it takes for a person to drown.