This weekend as our community gets ready to celebrate the 4th of July, many families will head to their local pool or a neighbors pool to cool off and enjoy swimming. We want children to live active and healthy lives, and we encourage families to spend time together this weekend!
Safe Kids Upstate, part of the Bradshaw Institute for Community Child Health & Advocacy at GHS Children’s Hospital, wants to share some safety tips with your family.
Drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1-19. On average, about 1,000 children die each year due to unintentional drowning and more than 5,000 are seen in emergency rooms for injuries from near-drowning incidents. Two-thirds of these deaths occur between May and August.
All of these deaths are preventable, and there are a few things we recommend to keep your child safe:
1. Introduce children to the water at a very early age.
- Let them know that they need to be with an adult when swimming in a pool or open body of water. Teach children to be careful around the water—but not to be afraid of swimming. We encourage families to consider swim lessons for their children as soon as possible. Many great swim instructors and programs are available throughout the Upstate.
2. Teach kids not to swim alone.
- Whether you’re swimming in a backyard pool or in a lake, teach children to swim with an adult. Older, more experienced swimmers should still swim with a partner every time. From the first time your kids swim, teach children to never go near or in water without an adult present.
3. Never leave a child unsupervised in the pool.
- In a recent study by Safe Kids Worldwide, one out of three parents responded that they have left a child alone in a pool for two or more minutes. Drowning can happen very quickly, and children need constant supervision around water.
4. Designate a “water watcher”
- Life can be busy and technology can be distracting. We recommend taking turns watching children in the pool with groups of adults. We recommend using a “water watcher” card that can be passed between adults, with the “watcher” supervising children at all times unless they find another adult to take their place. You can download our water watcher cards here.
5. Wear a life jacket when on a boat or swimming in open water.
- This applies to parents and children. Even the best of swimmers needs the extra protection and safety in the event they are rendered unconscious while boating. Make sure the life jacket appropriately fits your child by having the child make a “touchdown” signal—raising both arms straight up; if the life jacket hits the child’s chin or ears, it may be too big or the straps may be too loose.
Lee Penny is the manager of Safe Kids Upstate, the award-winning children’s safety advocacy group that is part of the Bradshaw Institute for Community Child Health & Advocacy at GHS Children’s Hospital.