As the weather heats up and more children and families head to pools and beaches, HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital Highland always wants to remind parents and caregivers to keep an eye on their kids and actively supervise them when they are in and around water.
Although many community pools are opting to remained closed this summer for safety reasons, children are still at a high risk for drowning, even in less crowded backyard pools. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among children ages 1 to 4, most drownings occur in home swimming pools. Among those 1 to 14, fatal drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death behind motor vehicle crashes.
“A drowning child cannot cry or shout for help so simply being near your child doesn’t always help,” said Dr. Delwin Merchant, emergency medicine physician and medical director of HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital’s emergency department. “Whether it’s a trip to the beach or a dip in a backyard pool, you can ensure that swimming is as safe as it is fun by following a few basic safety tips starting with keeping your eyes on your kids at all times.”
Studies show that although 90% of parents say they supervise their children while swimming, many acknowledge that they engage in other distracting activities at the same time such as talking, eating, reading or taking care of another child. Even a near-drowning incident can have lifelong consequences. Kids who survive a near-drowning may have brain damage, and after four to six minutes under water the damage is usually irreversible.
The hospital recommends the following six tips to keep kids safe in and around water:
1. Give kids your undivided attention. Actively supervise children in and around water, without distraction.
2. Use the “water watcher” strategy. When there are several adults present and children are swimming, designate an adult as the “water watcher” for a certain amount of time (such as 15-minute periods) to prevent lapses in supervision.
3. Teach kids not to swim alone – buddy up. 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.
4. Use proper floatation devices. Inflatable toys, rafts, air mattresses and water wings should never be used as lifesaving devices for children.
5. Learn CPR. We know you have a million things to do but learning CPR should be on the top of the list. It will give you tremendous peace of mind – and the more peace of mind you have as a parent, the better.
6. Be extra careful around pool drains. Educate your children about the dangers of drain entanglement and entrapment and teach them to never play or swim near drains or suction outlets.
To learn more about a Hands Only CPR Training option offered by Prairie Heart Institute, visit prairieheart.org/cpr.