As more children and families head to beaches, backyard pools and other bodies of water for summer fun, HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals want to remind parents and caregivers to actively supervise kids when they’re in and around water.
Although many community pools are opting to remain closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, children are still at a high risk of drowning even in less crowded backyard pools. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among children ages one to four, most drownings occur in home swimming pools. Among those ages one to 14, fatal drowning remains the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death, behind motor vehicle crashes.
Studies show that although 90 percent of parents say they supervise their children while swimming, many also acknowledge they engage in distracting activities at the same time such as eating, reading or taking care of another child.
“A drowning child cannot cry or shout for help, so simply being near your child isn’t always enough,” said Robin Schultz, director of emergency services at HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals.
Whether it’s a trip to the beach or the backyard pool, the hospitals recommend the following safety tips, starting with keeping your eyes on kids at all times.
1. Give kids your undivided attention. Actively supervise children in and around water, without distraction. When there are several adults present, designate one as the “water watcher” for a certain amount of time (such as 15-20 minute periods) to prevent lapses in supervision.
2. Teach kids not to swim alone – buddy up. In any body of water, teach children to swim with an older, more experienced swimmer. From a young age, also teach them to never go near or in water without an adult present.
3. Use proper floatation devices. Small children and weak swimmers should wear an age-appropriate, well-fitted life jacket any time they are near water. Inflatable toys, rafts, and water wings should never be used as lifesaving devices. In backyard pool areas, have rescue devices nearby such as a ring buoy and life hook. A cell phone should also be readily available at all times.
4. Learn CPR. CPR will give you the skills you need to help in an emergency until professional medical responders arrive.
5. Be extra careful around pool drains. Teach your children about the dangers of drain entanglement and entrapment and teach them never to play or swim near drains or suction outlets.
To learn more about selecting an appropriate life jacket, visit the American Red Cross website. For information about hands-only CPR, visit the American Heart Association website.