Memorial Day weekend is almost here and that means summer water activities. While the pool is a great place to stay cool it is also unfortunately associated with drowning. Drowning is the leading cause of death in children between the ages of 1-4 years and is the second leading cause of accidental death for children under the age of 14.
Drownings are more likely to happen not at the child’s own home, but while a child is at a swim party, or a neighbors house. Drowning is a SILENT event. While most people think of drowning being noisy with lots of splashing and screaming (as depicted on TV and movies), children rarely scream, call for help or thrash around. They quietly go under water…..and don’t come back up.
Statistics show that in 35% of drownings there is no adult supervision, and 57% of drownings occur in residential pools. About 40% of children drown when not swimming , but after accidentally falling into the water. I have witnessed this myself when filming a segment on pool safety at my own pool! The toddler, who was standing right next to me, slipped and fell right into the pool….but I was literally standing less than an arm’s length away, witnessed the entire event and pulled him right back out of the pool…both of us wet and scared!!! It only takes a second for this to happen.
The AAP now recommends that children begin formal swim lessons at younger ages as the risk of drowning is reduced by 88% with formal swim lessons. The AAP does not endorse “survival swimming” lessons for young children.
Drowning is preventable!! Make sure that your children have adult supervision whenever they swim, and don’t let children swim alone. Even teens can drown and should not swim alone….
When attending pool events, whether at home or away, designate an adult to be the “water watcher” so that no one assumes someone else is responsible. The “water watcher “is dedicated to one task, supervising the children…so no texting, socializing, drinking etc. while on duty.
Protecting children around the pool also means having the correct equipment! Pools should all be enclosed by a non-climbable fence with a self locking gate, which ensures that no one can wander into the pool before there is adult is on duty! Children who do not know how to swim should wear a Coast Guard approved personal flotation device , and not water wings or floaties. The pool deck should also have appropriate water rescue equipment ready, which includes pool noodles, safety rings and a first aid kit. Keep a phone nearby as well for ready access to call 911 if an emergency should occur.
Swimming is fun and a great way to exercise. Don’t forget the sunscreen and make sure to re-apply throughout the day. Have a good Memorial Day and a safe start to summer!!!