Teach water safety, no matter the body of water
It’s summertime, and children everywhere can’t wait for that first dip in the pool or for that first chance to hit the lake. But how do you keep your child safe while enjoying the water? There are many ways to help your children learn water safety measures that they will continue to use throughout their lives.
Each year, drownings and near-drownings as well as water sports accident-related head and spinal cord injuries send thousands of children to hospital emergency rooms, including East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. Diving accidents make up a huge portion of these injuries, while fatigue, lack of proper swim instructions and water vehicle accidents also are factors in the alarming number of incidents that happen each summer.
Dr. Ryan Redman, pediatric emergency specialist at Children’s Hospital, says most accidents could actually be prevented with increased supervision. “Nothing, not even swimming lessons or life preservers, takes the place of good parental supervision around the water. In my career, I have never seen a near drowning that could not have been prevented with better supervision.
Whether it’s the backyard pool, the lake or the ocean on vacation, each different body of water has the same basic rules to keep children safe. Children’s Hospital has teamed with the Safe Kids Coalition of the Greater Knox Area and Dollywood’s Splash Country, to provide water safety information to anyone headed to the water this summer. The goal is to remind parents, grandparents and other “water watchers” that following a general set of rules will help keep children safely swimming and having fun in any water-related situation.
Water safety rules
Never leave a child alone in or near water at the pool, the lake, the bathtub or the beach. An accident can occur in seconds. If you must leave even for a moment, take your child with you.
Make sure adults watching young children near water know CPR and can rescue a child if necessary.
Surround pools – on all four sides – with a sturdy five-foot fence.
Make sure the gates self-close and self-latch at a height children can’t reach.
Keep rescue equipment such as a shepherd’s hook (which is a long pole with a hook on the end), a life preserver and a telephone near the pool.
Insist that children wear a life preserver or flotation device. The US Coast Guard estimates that 9 of 10 drowning victims are not wearing one.
Avoid inflatable swimming aids such as “floaties” or “water-wings.” They are not a substitute for approved life vests and can give children a false sense of security.
Enroll children over age one in swimming lessons taught by qualified instructors. But always keep in mind that lessons don’t make children “drown-proof.”
- Teach children these four key swimming rules:
- Always swim with a buddy.
- Don’t dive into unknown bodies of water. Jump feet first to avoid hitting your head on shallow bottom.
- Don’t jump or push others into the water.
- Be prepared for an emergency.
- Never consume alcohol when operating a boat, swimming or during water activities, and don’t allow your child to ride on any water vehicle where you suspect alcohol consumptions will take place.
The above list was adapted from suggestions by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Safety Council. Pool, beach and lake activities provide a fun-filled day for the entire family, but precautions are necessary to enjoy all bodies of water safely.
For more information about water safety, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics website, the National Safety Council’s website or the KidsHealth section of Children’s Hospital’s website.