Advancing Children's Health

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Swim Safely: Designate a Water Watcher

Published by , on Jun 9, 2014

Swimming can be a source of endless fun for kids, especially during the summer, but being in and around pools, rivers, oceans and other bodies of water can also sometimes be dangerous. Drowning is a leading cause of death and injury for children of all ages and two-thirds of drowning deaths occur between May and August. To ensure a safe summer season, Corri Miller-Hobbs, Registered Nurse and Safe Kids Virginia Program Coordinator, shares the following tips for keeping children safe around water.

Never let children swim alone. Teach your children not to go in or near water without an adult present.

When there are several adults present and children are swimming, use the Water Watcher card strategy. Designate an adult who knows how to swim as the Water Watcher for a certain amount of time (such as a 15-minute period) and rotate this responsibility to be sure there are no lapses in supervision. It can be helpful to print a Water Watcher card to pass along to each Water Watcher.

Actively supervise children when they are in or around water. Put your cell phone away and give children 100 percent of your attention. If the child is an infant or toddler, an adult should always be within arm’s reach when the child is in the water.

Be sure all adults and children take swimming lessons until they are able to swim. The YMCA and American Red Cross offer swimming lessons and community pools typically offer lessons for both members and non-members.

Do not rely on water wings or water noodles as swim aids. These are toys and do not replace a life jacket.

Know how to recognize that a swimmer is in distress and how to respond in a water emergency. The American Red Cross also offers courses in water safety.

Learn CPR. (This applies to both children and adults.) CPR courses are offered at local Red Cross chapters.

Teach children about the dangers of getting trapped in the drain or suction outlet of pools and hot tubs and do not allow them to play or swim near these drains or outlets.

Teach children that oceans, lakes and other open bodies of water have currents, undertow and uneven surfaces that can be hazardous. Be sure children swim in designated swimming areas only.

If you have a pool or hot tub in your backyard, make sure there is four-sided fencing that is at least four feet high with self-closing, self-latching gates around the pool or hot tub and install door or window alarms to alert you if a child wanders into the pool/hot tub area. Utilize anti-entrapment drain covers and a safety vacuum release system to release suction and shut down the pump should entrapment occur. Replace flat drain covers with dome-shaped covers to minimize the risk of injury.

Ensure the pools or hot tubs you use have multiple drains to minimize the suction of any one drain and inspect drain covers to be sure they are secure and in good working order.

 

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