Sheboygan, Wis. – As the weather heats up and more children and families head to pools and beaches, HSHS St. Nicholas Hospital in Sheboygan reminds 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 remain 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, 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,” says Dr. Kyle McCarty, emergency medicine physician for HSHS hospitals in Eastern Wisconsin. “It is important to keep your eyes on your children at all times.”
Studies show although 90 percent of parents say they supervise their children while swimming, many acknowledge they engage in other distracting activities at the same time such as talking, eating, reading or taking care of another child.
Tips to keep children safe around water:
Give them your undivided attention. Actively supervise children in and around water, without distraction. When there are several adults present, designate one as the “water watcher” for a certain amount of time (such as 15-20 minute periods) to prevent lapses in supervision.
Teach them to never swim alone. In any body of water, teach children to swim with an older, more experienced swimmer. From a young age, also teach them to never go near or in water without an adult present.
Use proper floatation devices. Small children and weak swimmers should wear an age-appropriate, well-fitted life jacket any time they are near water. Inflatable toys, rafts, and water wings should never be used as lifesaving devices.
Create barriers. Barriers, such as pool fencing, prevent young children from gaining access to the pool area without caregivers’ awareness. A four-sided isolation fence (separating the pool area from the house and yard) reduces a child’s risk of drowning 83-percent compared to three-sided property-line fencing.
Learn CPR. CPR will give you the skills to help in an emergency until professional medical responders arrive.
Be careful around pool drains. Teach your children about the dangers of drain entanglement and entrapment and teach them never to play or swim near drains or suction outlets.