09 Jun Water Safety 101: A Guide for Parents (Part 1)
By: Dr. Beckie Bergman
With warmer weather finally arriving, we are all starting to get into summer mode, and it seems like the perfect time to review some water safety. A lot of this may seem like common sense, but the current pandemic is adding a new element in that while many parents may be working from home, they may also be caring for their children simultaneously. It’s not easy to focus on work and supervise children at the same time.
If you have a pool, enjoy, but take precautions (and invite me over please once it is safe to do so).
- First of all, SUPERVISE! If you have a child under age five, you should be within arm’s reach. This holds true whether your child is in a pool in the yard or at a beach with open water.
- Similarly, older kids should not swim unsupervised or without a swimming buddy. The inflatable wings you can put on children’s arms do not take the place of your arms.
- Make sure that you have a fence around your pool. It should be at least four feet tall without gaps. There should be a gate which self-closes and self-latches.
- Keep rescue equipment close by, such as a shepherd’s hook and life preserver. To decrease the risk of entrapment (getting trapped or sucked into a suction port), make sure that drains are functioning properly and drain covers are in place.
- If you have an inflatable above ground pool, be aware that it is possible to lean against the soft side and fall in. (I always cringe when I see videos of that on “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” I can’t watch that show anymore because so many of the so-called funny accidents make me wonder how these people don’t end up in a hospital. I digress.)
- When your pool is “closed for the night,” please remove any toys. Get that extra temptation out of the pool!
- Also remember, even if you don’t have a pool, your neighbor might. Be aware of any potential issues there, whether it be young kids wandering over or older kids trying to sneak in a forbidden swim.
Do you have one of those little plastic pools outside? I loved those as a kid, but a child can drown in 1-2 inches of water. That is enough to cover a nose and a mouth, and not all children may be able to get out of a dangerous position.Even shallow bodies of water can be dangerous for young kids. According to CNN, drowning is the leading accidental cause of death for kids 1 to 4. The danger is present not just with pools but any other body of water. This may be a bucket of water, your pet’s water bowl, coolers with melted ice, bird baths, small ponds, trash or recycling bins, open holes in the ground such as what might be created prior to putting in fence posts or a flag pole, etc.
- When not being used, please empty those containers, if possible. If your child is outside and water is around, he or she is likely to find it! (Kids have a knack for finding things they shouldn’t. Your challenge is to be a step ahead of them.)
- Inside your home, if you have young children, you also need to be cautious with the bathroom. Keep the door latched or child-proofed if possible. Young children manage to find their way into toilet bowls. A latch on the lid may be appropriate in your home. If your tub has any water in it, that is a risk as well. Even if you are home with your child, unless you are CONSTANTLY following your toddler around, these bathroom risks are real.
Be sure to check out part 2 of this blog on Thursday, where we will be discussing beaches, boating, teens in the water, and drowning response instructions.