I have been a nurse for over 17 years, and my first job as an RN was in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). For the 2+ years I worked there, each summer there would be trauma calls of a near-drowning. I will never forget the tragedy and heartache in these stories, the families I met during that time were loving, thoughtful, amazing parents who were devastated. These stories are often accidents and are extremely traumatic for everyone involved. The statistics are shocking and my encounters with this public health issue are deeply personal.
Summer fun is just around the corner with the neighborhood pool super close. Even though my children can swim, they are still poor at assessing risks and the threat of drowning remains real. At this age our children still need to be closely monitored. We are committed to renew our motivation to follow good safety when around the water, here are some tips.
First, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has a great tool kit that offers parents age appropriate advice on water safety. Many of my tips are from these documents, this is a great resource for parents to review each year for age specific information.
After birth defects, drowning is the No. 1, cause of death for children ages 1-4. (AAP)
General Water Safety Tips
- Stay within arm’s reach whenever your baby is near water, including bathtubs pools and puddles
- Empty buckets, bathtubs, and wading pools after each use
- Never leave a child alone in a bathtub
- Keep the bathroom door closed
Tips for Swimming Pool
- Have a parent assigned to each child – When “everyone” is in charge…no one is in charge. For children there should be a parent assigned to each child when around water.
If you are the assigned watcher:
- Put down your cell phone
- Avoid other activities
- Communicate verbally in passing responsibility of each kid
- Switch off with another adult for breaks
- Hire a Lifeguard
- Take a Break – If you need a break to make a phone call or send a text, scroll Facebook, it’s okay to take a 10-15-minute mandatory rest time.
- Keep unused floating objects out of the pool.
- Learn CPR Basic Life Support.
- Swimming Lessons – Drowning prevention is a family activity! Swim lessons for parents, toddlers, and children are a first step toward water safety.
- Discuss the Rules. Discuss the pool rules at a family meeting. Lay out expectations and consequences for breaking the rules.
- Never let someone else’s children into a locked pool area.
- Never give the pool key to children and let them run ahead and enter the pool area alone.
- Get out of the pool if you hear thunder or see lightning. I have lived in Kansas most of my life and lighting can be just as scary as tornados!
Children can drown in just 1-2 inches of water. Each year, about 500 children under 5 drown. (AAP)
Lake and River Tips
- Lifejackets are a must, even in shallow water. It is difficult to see in lake water increasing risk.
- Never swim alone
- Don’t swim in the dark
- Create water boundaries
- Drowning is silent – Drowning rarely looks as it is portrayed in the media, it can happen to anyone – All ages can be at risk of drowning
Adults must be vigilant while around water. As a family put together a plan and discuss it, make this summer as fun and safe as possible!
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