Educate Your Family to Prevent Child Drownings This Summer
May is National Drowning Prevention Month. Due to the stay-at-home order, your backyard swimming pool is probably seeing an increased level of use, and so there is no better time to educate yourself and your children about water safety. The National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA) reports these alarming statistics:
- Drowning is the #1 cause of accidental death for children ages 1-4 years old
- 3,500 will likely die as a result of drowning this year in the U.S.
- 88% of child drownings occur with at least one adult present
These terrifying occurrences can be prevented when parents, grandparents, guardians are aware of crucial safety tips. The NDPA and Phoenix’s very own Hubbard Family Swim School, which offers swim lessons to children 8 weeks to 12 years of age, have offered several sound pieces of advice when it comes to safe swimming this season:
- Never leave a child unattended near water in a pool, tub, bucket or ocean. There is no substitute for adult supervision.
- “We suggest teaching children to never enter a pool without getting adult permission, regardless of their age or ability,” said Bob Hubbard, co-founder and co-owner of the Hubbard Family Swim School. “You can teach the child patience by making them wait until you are ready to supervise them, and until they have their towels ready and sunscreen on. Also, teach your child to not enter the water until uninvited by always counting to three.”
- Designate a “Water Watcher” to maintain constant watch over children in the pool during gatherings.
- “When everyone is watching, no oneis watching,” said Hubbard. “Pick an adult to be your “Water Watcher,” and rotate among all eligible adults on the pool deck.”
- Do not use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision.
- “If you are swimming in a pool, your children need constant supervision, not ‘floaties’ alone,” said Hubbard. “We have seen young children run and jump into a pool and then struggle and need help. They often forget that they took their “floaties” off, and they did not know how to swim independently.”
- Only use proper and approved floatation devices. Do not confuse proper and approved floatation devices with toys.
- Do not consider children “drown proof” because they’ve had swimming lessons.
- “Continue to teach children how to swim and take them to formal swim lessons until they’re completely comfortable underwater, and feel confident and strong,” said Hubbard. “They should not be working hard when they are in the water. They should be able to relax and float.”
- Swim near a lifeguard whenever possible and only swim in designated swimming areas.
- The home should be isolated from the pool with a fence at least 60” tall, with a self-closing, self-latching gate. The gate should open away from the pool and should never be propped open.
- Doors and windows should be alarmed to alert adults when opened. Doors should be self-closing and self-latching.
- Power-operated pool safety covers are the most convenient and efficient. Solar/floating pool covers are not safety devices.
- Keep a phone at poolside so that you never have to leave the pool to answer the phone and can call for help if needed.
- Learn CPR and rescue breathing.
- Keep a life-saving ring, shepherd’s hook and CPR instructions mounted at poolside.
- Never leave water in buckets or wading pools.
- If a child is missing, always check the pool first. Seconds count!
- Remove toys from in and around the pool when not in use.
- Don’t use floating chlorine dispensers that look like toys. Also, remove pool cleaners like Solar-Breeze NX2 when swimming.
- Instruct babysitters about potential pool hazards and emphasize the need for constant supervision.
- Responsibilities of pool ownership include ensuring children in the home learn to swim, and that adults know CPR.
Enjoy a safe and swim-filled summer 2020. It’s #swimtime.