Drowning Prevention tips
As the weather warms up and children are clamoring to be in and near water, we at CPR2U believe it’s a good time to remind parents and other caregivers about some ways to help keep children safe near water. One of the easiest ways to remember how to best keep kids safe, when water is involved, is to keep in mind the ABCs. In this case, ABC and D!
A: Adult Supervision
Whenever there are children around water, there must be an adult specifically responsible to supervise them. This person must maintain vigilant observation of the children near water, because a child can drown in mere seconds, and even in extremely shallow water. This means: no distractions! No texting, no reading on the Kindle, no leaving to make drinks, nothing. It may sound a bit harsh, but the alternative is to risk a child drowning.
Many communities have legal requirements for barriers around swimming pools. Even if there’s no legal requirement, however, it is safest to keep kids away from pools and other bodies of water with a barrier that requires an adult to open. It should prevent a child from getting through, under, or over the barrier. Generally, the barrier should be at least four feet high and prevent the child from slipping through it, crawling under it, or climbing over it. For specific recommendations from the United States Consumer Products Safety Commision, see: https://www.cpsc.gov//PageFiles/122222/pool.pdf
Children who learn to swim are less likely to drown accidentally, so teaching children how to swim can definitely help avoid drownings, though even children who know how to swim are not absolutely safe! In addition, caregivers should take a course in CPR; should a child—even one who knows how to swim—become accidentally submerged, a nearby caregiver trained in CPR can help a submersion victim and possibly prevent an accidentally submerged child from dying or becoming permanently disabled.
Devices fall into three general categories, and all of them should be available and in use (as appropriate) whenever there are children near water. First, devices designed to help a submersion victim, such as a shepard’s hook, CPR instruction poster, and a lifesaving ring (a.k.a. lifebuoy), should be near the body of water and caregivers should be trained in their use. Second, floatation devices should be used, especially in open water. Third, a device to contact 9-1-1 in an emergency must be near to the body of water, in the event an accident occurs. Please, keep in mind that every year thousands of children die from accidental drownings (in 2005-2009, an average of 3,533 drowning deaths occurred per year, or almost ten every day on average1!). By following these ABC’s (and D!), you can help reduce child drowning deaths.
1: Laosee, OC, Gilchrist, J, Rudd, R. Drowning 2005-2009. MMWR 2012; 61(19):344-347.