Whether it happens to be summertime and your children are headed for the pool, or the middle of winter when your little one is enjoying a warm bath, water safety is of utmost importance. Though the rate of accidental death by drowning has been dropping, it is still the leading cause of accidental deaths in children aged one to four years. Following are some safety tips to be sure your child is safe in the water.
Teach your child to swim – This is one of the best things you can do to ensure their safety around water. You can start familiarizing your child with water as an infant so they do not develop a fear of it. Ensuring that your child receives swimming lessons is especially important if he or she comes from a family of non-swimmers, as children from these households have an eight times greater risk of drowning as children who come from swimming households. If your child can’t swim, be sure he or she wears a life jacket at all times around open water. Children should be taught never to swim alone and not to play around unattended pools or drains.
Remove drowning hazards – Children can drown not only in a pool, but also in a tub, toilet, or even a bucket in only a few inches of water. Keep the door closed to the bathrooms and laundry room, keep toilet seat lids down and install a child safety lock on the seat. Keep buckets not in use drained of liquid and store them upside-down. Remove water from the tub or any kind of wading pool immediately after use.
Be nearby at all times – Always be within arm’s reach of your child in any setting where there is water, including pools, tubs, ponds and buckets. Never leave your child unattended in the tub, even for a minute. Two thirds of home deaths from drowning (apart from pools) occur in the bathtub.
Watch your child constantly – Children need to be watched at all times, even if they know how to swim. It is important not to be distracted by talking on the phone, sending text messages or reading a book, as children can drown very quickly and quietly. Most deaths from drowning occurred just after an adult was watching them. If you find your child missing, check the water first.
Put up barriers – If you have a home pool or spa, be sure you surround your pool on all sides with a fence that is at least 4 feet high. Access to the pool should be with an automatic locking gate, and alarms to both the gate and pool area should be installed. Cover and lock the pool or spa when you are not using it.
Learn CPR – Children who are rescued from drowning need to receive CPR as soon as possible to decrease the likelihood of death or brain damage. Don’t wait for the paramedics to arrive.