Approximately 800 children die from drowning each year in the United States. And Florida is one of the leading states in drowning deaths for children under 5 years of age, equating to about four preschool classrooms! Drowning risk varies based on the age of the child.
Children under the age of one are more likely to drown inside of the home. For example, bath tubs are a very common place for drowning indoors, but any body of water can be a place of danger. Remember to empty buckets of water, install toilet locks, and never leave a child unattended while they are bathing.
Children between the ages of 1-4 are more likely to drown in a pool. Several layers of safety should be implemented. Inside of the home, parents should have a clear view of the pool. Installing child-proof locks that are out of reach of the child, and door alarms that alert parents and caregivers when the door is opened can also be beneficial. Outside, surround the pool with a four-sided safety fence that is at least 4 feet tall with a self-latching gate. Talk to neighbors with pools about keeping their gates locked. Also, do not leave any toys in the pool because toys may attract children to the water and to the toys themselves. Finally, hot tubs should have a locking cover.
Swimming lessons are an integral piece of drowning prevention. Enrolling children in formal swimming lessons can dramatically reduce the risk of drowning. Starting with survival skills such as stepping or jumping into the pool and returning to surface, floating or treading water for one minute, swimming 25 yards towards the edge and getting out are all extremely helpful beginner skills. Continuing the swimming lessons throughout the year serves to keep skills fresh in the child’s mind.
Parents and caregivers should watch children at all times near the water. Even avid swimmers and those who are over the age of five can bump their heads, accidentally inhale water, or overestimate their own swimming ability. Children and adolescents between the ages of 5-17 are most likely to drown in other bodies of water. These would include the ocean and lakes, among others.
Leaning CPR is another vital piece of water safety. If an incident occurs, call 911 and start administering CPR immediately.
Another helpful tip can be designating a water watcher. This is a person who wears a tag that designates them as the person actively watching the swimmers and the water. Volunteers can take 15 min shifts. To request a water watcher badge, email: firstname.lastname@example.org Please include your name and address.