Summer water safety

We see it every summer in the news. And it’s absolutely heartbreaking.

An infant or toddler drowns in a swimming pool or a natural body of water. Parents and siblings are grief-stricken, and there’s nothing anyone can do to bring that poor child back.

Just last month, U.S. Olympic skier Bode Miller sadly lost their 19-month daughter after drowning in a swimming pool, bringing national attention to the seriousness of this danger.

These tragedies are especially difficult to deal with because they are preventable. By following basic water safety rules, parents and caregivers can protect vulnerable children from this horrible fate.

And most children can learn how to swim, or at least tread water, at a very early age in order to save themselves in an emergency.

No. 1 cause for accidental death

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the number one cause for accidental death among infants and children ages 1 to 4. Nearly 1,000 children die from drowning each year.

Many parts of the country are enjoying a hot summer. That means kids are spending lots of time outdoors. And we all know how much kids love water.

They’re going to want to splash around as much as possible in pools, lakes, oceans and swimming holes for the next couple of months.

Kids can drown in less than two inches of water… even in a sink. It’s up to us to protect our children and grandchildren. How?

Child water safety tips

The Infant Swimming Resource (ISR) provides five keys to water safety. They are…

  • Effective Supervision. The most critical line of defense is adult supervision. No level of aquatic skill can replace active supervision. If your child or grandchild is ever missing, look in the water first.
  • Pool Fences. Install a permanent four-sided fence with self-locking gates around your home pool. Ensure that the pool fence is at least three to five feet from the pool edge.
  • Alarms. Make sure all doors and windows leading to the pool are locked and alarmed.
  • Survival Swimming Lessons. A moment’s inattention does not have to cost a child his life. Children can be taught water survival skills in a safe environment.
  • CPR. If an emergency happens, it is essential that parents and families are prepared. Learn to perform CPR on children and adults, and remember to update those skills regularly.

Here is some additional advice from the ISR:

  • While watching a child in the water, don’t make or receive phone calls and don’t talk to other adults. Give the child 100 percent of your attention.
  • If you are with other adults watching their children, make sure there is always one designated watcher at all times.
  • Don’t allow children to play on or climb the permanent fence.
  • Remove patio furniture that could be used as a ladder near the fence.
  • Keep your pool deck clean and clear.
  • Educate friends and family members about the importance of child water safety.
  • Keep children away from any drains or suction outlets in pools.
  • If your child is in a lake or other natural body of water, always have a rope and throw ring handy.
  • Never allow a child to remove a life jacket when he or she is on a boat.
  • If you have a dock on your property, paint or tape a brightly colored “Do Not Cross” line at least two to three feet from its edge.
  • In a public setting, dress your child in a bright bathing suit so he or she is easy to spot.
  • If you’re at a beach with your child, set up near the lifeguard tower. Ask the guard about conditions including currents and jellyfish.

Unfortunately, we will hear about children drowning this summer. Don’t let that child or grandchild be yours.

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