Summer is here which means that more children will be in and around water areas such as pools and oceans. Like many parents, you worry about your children's safety around water, no matter how old they are.
According to the CDC in the US, drowning is the leading cause of injury death among children aged 1-4, and the third leading cause of unintentional injury death in children and adolescents aged 5-19.
The good news is that you can follow safety tips — and teach your children skills — to help keep them safe while enjoying water activities. Supervising children vigilantly and creating barriers to accessing water unexpectedly are the first steps in averting a tragedy.
Teaching children how to be safe in and around water is one of the most important life skills parents can give their children. In fact, research shows that participation in formal water safety and swim lessons can reduce the risk of drowning among children 1 to 4 years of age.
Lindsay Mondick, Senior Manager of Aquatics at YMCA of the USA offers important safety tips to protect your children from harm around water, whether it's in the bathtub, at the beach or in a pool.
Never swim alone. Nobody should swim by themselves, in case of accident. Teach your children that they should never enter the water anywhere without a lifeguard and/or responsible caregiver attending them.
Stay attentive and watch without distraction. If you're with a large group, or even if a lifeguard is present, designate one person to watch the child or children at all times. If children are in a pool or near a body of water, a caregiver needs to be close, paying full attention and not distracted by a phone or other diversions.
Children and adolescents must wear appropriately sized and weighted life jackets in or around watercraft. Non-swimmers and small children should always wear life jackets when near water and while swimming. Adults should also wear them to model safe behaviour.
Don't practice holding your breath under water. Children should not have breath-holding contests or participate in underwater swimming challenges that could risk their lives.
Learn CPR. When seconds count, bystanders may be the first to help, so learning CPR may save a life. If you were CPR certified years ago, take a refresher course.
Teach basic swim skills early. Not only do most children enjoy swimming lessons, but taking formal lessons can save their lives. Learning basic water safety and swimming skills at an early age helps children cope with potential dangers.
Adults and children learn what to do if they find themselves in water unexpectedly. Participants practice basic skills like how to float and tread water; learning how to push off the bottom of the pool as they are submerging to get back to the surface can help a child find and grab the side of the pool for safety.