Prevent Drowning – Water Safety Tips for Parents

There’s a large publicity campaign going on right now in my county, and it’s one they do every year. It’s aim is to save lives, particularly of young children. As summer approaches more people all over the counrty will be hitting the swimming pools, lakes and beaches for family fun, so let’s talk safety.

Here in South Florida our pools are open all year, and the risk of accidental drowning is obviously much higher than in places where the pools are closed and covered for 8 months every year. In fact drowning is the #1 cause of death for children ages 1-4 in my home county. That makes me shudder, as does every news story that documents the tragedy.

Here are some things you can do to make sure your children remain safe around the water:

1. Never leave children unattended near any body of water – even for a moment. Children can drown in as little as two inches of water in less than a minute. Be mindful of leaving a child with an older sibling – kids’ attention strays.

2. Install a self-closing gate around the pool. These are mandatory with all new construction here, unless the pool area is fully screened with doors that lock.

3. Alarm every door leading to water to alert you if a child has gone outside. One of my friends has this and believe me, no one will miss the ear-shattering siren that alerts to open doors!

4. Teach children water and swimming skills. The youngest children can be taught to reach for the wall if they fall in, increasing their chances of survival. Check in your area for lessons, or look online to teach them yourself!

5. Designate an adult to watch children during pool parties and family beach gatherings.

6. Remove any toys that may attract children to the pool area. Stow balls, rafts and other items for safety and neatness.

7. Install a safety net pool cover to secure the water area.

8. Install a cordless phone, poolside. No one wants to have to run inside looking for a phone if there’s an emergency in the pool area.

9. Lifesaving equipment – a pole, life preserver and rope – should be kept in the pool area.

10. Clip back or cap long hair. Children with long hair should never leave it loose in the pool.

11. Avoid keeping water in buckets or other large containers when toddlers are home. For people who live in hurricane prone areas make sure you secure rooms if you fill up the tub or buckets during a hurricane warning. Better yet, stock up on bottled water. Better safe…

12. Don’t rely on flotation devices to protect your children in the water. They need to be watched just as closely with floaties as without.

13. Take a CRP class. The Red cross and many other organizations offer these classes for a nominal fee.

This last one isn’t in the materials I read, but since I’ve found out about it I want to pass it along.

14. Know the warning signs for Dry Drowning. People can actually die hours after swallowing water. I’d never heard of this until a friend sent me a link to this article. It is extremely scary to me that this happens. I know I’ve been in the pool with son when he’s swallowed water, and as long as he seemed okay I never, ever would have suspected a problem. And really, would a hospital even know to look for this if you were to bring in your child because he’s tired? Still, please keep an eye out for these warning signs, which are so very easy to overlook:

  • difficulty breathing
  • extreme tiredness
  • changes in behavior

Please, pass this information along.

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