Kids love to play in water. Whether it’s your toddler splashing with duckies in the bathtub, your pre-teen playing incessant Marco Polo games with his or her buddies, or your teenager showing off a spectacular dive for an admiring girlfriend or boyfriend, kids and water go together like the proverbial peanut butter and jelly.
Unfortunately, however, swimming pools pose a huge hazard for your kids. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 800 and 900 children drown every year, making drowning the second leading cause of death among young children.
Home Swimming Pools
Most child drownings occur in home pools. Just last week, Olympic skier Bode Miller’s 19-month-old daughter tragically drowned during a pool party in California. While the family chose not to reveal the precise circumstances of Emmy’s death, the CDC lists the following factors that increase the likelihood of a child drowning:
- Inability to swim
- Lack of barriers to prevent access to unsupervised pools
- Lack of close parental or other adult supervision
- Failure to wear a life jacket
While you should make it a point to learn CPR before introducing your kids to water, the CDC warns that child drownings generally are quick and silent. Usually a child in trouble does not splash around or cry for help. Consequently, the best thing you can do to keep your kids safe is to watch them like a hawk whenever they are in or around a pool.
You can introduce your baby to water at about the age of six months. Keep your hands on him or her at all times. If using an inflatable or portable pool, empty it immediately after the swimming activity and store it upside down well out of your child’s reach.
If your child is between the ages of one and four, it’s not too early for swimming lessons. The sooner they learn the following pool safety survival skills, the safer they will be:
- Stepping or jumping into water over his or her head and returning to the surface
- Floating and/or treading water for one minute
- Turning around in a full circle in water and finding an exit
- Swimming 25 yards to exit the pool
- Exiting the pool without using the steps or ladder
If you have your own backyard pool, make sure to completely surround it with at least a 4-foot fence with a self-closing and self-latching gate. Also see to it that your pool has multiple drains on its sides, NOT its bottom, to prevent excessive suction in any one of them that could injure your child or make it impossible for him or her to escape its force.
Remember, floating water toys like water wings, noodles, rings, etc. are no substitute for a personal flotation device approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.
If your child is between the ages of five and nine, make sure they understand that they must never go into a pool unless an adult is present. Also teach him or her that they must always swim with a partner, never alone.
Keeping your kids safe in and around swimming pools and practicing proper pool safety is not difficult if you are willing to commit to the time and supervision necessary to ensure that their swimming experiences are great summer fun.
If the unthinkable happens and your child is injured or drowns in someone else’s pool, please call Richard A. Dubi toll-free at 833-FOR-DUBI (833-367-3824).