The key to preventing childhood drowning is supervision; however studies have estimated that up to 90% of children who drown were reportedly supervised when the incident occurred. The best protection is an adult educated about and focused on water safety. Here are a few simple steps you can take to become water smart:
- Designate a Water Watcher. Many parents accompany their child to the pool, but read a book, play on their phone, or otherwise divert their attention away from the action in the water. Remember: children drown without a sound . . . in just a few seconds. Whenever and wherever children are swimming, designate a person who will focus solely on supervising the splashing. He or she should not leave the pool area (or lake, river, etc.) until a replacement arrives or the children leave the water. It can be a mind-numbing job, so Water Watchers should trade off fairly regularly.
- Always bring a phone to the pool, lake, river, etc. You won’t want to waste precious minutes racing to the house to call 911. Make sure the phone is placed in a high, dry place. DO NOT leave it in a pocket. Chances are you wouldn’t stop to remove the phone from your pocket before jumping into the water to rescue a child.
- Check the water first. If you notice that your child is no longer happily mashing Cheerios into the living room carpet where you left her, look where the water is first. Parents have searched for their toddler in the house for 15 minutes before finally looking in the pool. Early medical intervention is vital, so be sure to first scout out the pool, pond, fountain, toilet or any other place where an exploring child could run into water trouble.
- Learn CPR. Minutes make a huge difference when it comes to receiving emergency care. The CPR class is only a few hours and the cost is cheap compared to a child’s life. Contact the American Red Cross or your local hospital for information on upcoming classes in the area.
Childhood drowning is preventable. Educated adult supervision, together with swimming lessons and barriers, combine to wrap children in layers of protection.