Drowning can also happen where you'd least expect it — the sink, the toilet bowl, fountains, buckets, inflatable pools, or small bodies of standing water around your home, such as ditches filled with rainwater. That's a really scary thought if you ask me. And, many who survived near drownings suffered irreversible brain damage.
There are many precautions that parents can take to keep children safe this summer while still having fun with water. According to experts, the first thing that should be done is blocking access to swimming pools, increasing vigilance and starting swimming lessons.
There's good research that swimming lessons for kids 1 to 4 can be lifesavers. Swim lessons at an early age can help to teach children the skills they need to manage themselves in the rare event that they end up in the water and survive long enough so parents can find them and get them out.
In many cases involving home pools, parents are unaware that their child has sneaked out of the house. That's why you have to have barriers, something that will slow down your child's access to the water.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), fences should meet these standards:
- Fences should stand at least 4 feet (130 centimeters) high with no foot or handrails for kids to climb on.
- The slats should be less than 4 inches (110 millimeters) apart so a child can't get through, or if chain link, should have no opening larger than 1¾ inches (50 millimeters).
- Gates should be self-closing and self-latching, and the latch should be out of kids' reach.
Here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- All caregivers should learn CPR.
- Never leave a toy in or around a pool.
- Never leave a child alone in or near a pool.
- Make sure an adult is always within arm's length.
- Children ages 1 to 4 years old should take swimming lessons. But remember that teaching children to swim does not guarantee their safety in the water.
- Teach children to never run, push or jump on others around water. Teach them never to swim alone.
- Keep a phone by the pool, along with rescue equipment, such as a life preserver and a shepherd's hook -- a long pole with a hook at the end.
- Pools should be surrounded by a fence at least 4-feet high. Pool gates should self-close and self-latch at a height unreachable by small children.
- If you have an inflatable or plastic pool, empty it after each use and turn it upside down.
It's important to teach your kids proper pool behavior, and to make sure that you take the right precautions, too. Let kids know that they should contact the lifeguard or an adult if there's an emergency.
Kids shouldn't run or push around the pool and should never dive in areas that are not marked for diving. If the weather turns bad (especially if there's lightning), they should get out of the pool immediately.
Above all, supervise your kids at all times. Don't assume that just because your child took swimming lessons or is using a flotation device such as an inner tube or inflatable raft that there's no drowning risk.