It is a sad fact that in 2002, more than 2,700 kids aged 14 or under were involved in drowning or near-drowning incidents in the U.S., and our own neighborhood has not been immune to such tragedy. Statistics also show that there is more risk of a child drowning in July than in any other month of the year.
The National Safe Kids organization (www.safekids.org) offers the following tips for adults and children to make sure that fun in the water stays that way:
Never leave a child alone near water.
Learn infant and child CPR.
Tell children never to run, push, or jump on others near water.
Do not use inflatable inner tubes or “water wings” as safety devices.
SAFE KIDS found that the majority (55 percent) of parents say they are “not at all worried” or “not very worried” about their child drowning. And yet, drowning remains the second leading injury-related killer of children ages one to 14. It is a complex issue with no single safety device that works in all cases. Water safety entails the understanding and practice of four water safety wisdoms – supervision, environment, gear and education.
“Adults need to actively supervise children around water. This means watching and listening at all times and staying close enough to intervene in an emergency,” says Dr. Eichelberger, director of Emergency Trauma Services at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. , and CEO of the National SAFE KIDS Campaign.
More than half (55 percent) of parents say there are some circumstances where it is acceptable for a child to swim unsupervised.
Even when parents say they are supervising, many are participating in a variety of distracting behaviors including talking to others (38 percent), reading (18 percent), eating (17 percent) and talking on the phone (11 percent).
It’s important to remember that drowning is a silent killer, and can take place in a matter of seconds. Active supervision is a must. SAFE KIDS recommends adults take turns serving as the “water watcher” – whose sole responsibility is to constantly observe children in or near the water.
While 98 percent of pool- or spa-owning parents report they have taken adequate steps to ensure children’s safety, most have not made the necessary environmental changes.
Nearly two-thirds (61 percent) of pool or spa-owning parents do not have isolation fencing around their pools or spas, and 43 percent have no self-closing and self-latching gate.
Installation and proper use of four-sided isolation fencing could prevent 50-90 percent of residential pool drownings.
Many tweens (kids aged 8 to 12) admit they never wear a life jacket when riding on a personal watercraft (50 percent), participating in water sports (37 percent) or riding in a boat (16 percent).
It is estimated that 85 percent of boat-related drownings could be prevented if all passengers were wearing properly fitting life vests.
One in five parents (19 percent) mistakenly believes that air-filled water wings can protect their child from drowning.
Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of drowning victims studied did not know how to swim. Seventy-three percent of victims ages five to nine and 30 percent of victims ages 10 to 14 were non-swimmers.
Although the majority of parents agree that all children should have swimming instruction by the age of 8, 37 percent of parents report that their child has never taken lessons.
SAFE KIDS recommends that children should be enrolled in swimming lessons with a certified instructor by the age of eight.
Here are other tips to keep your child safe around water at home:
Empty wading pools every day
Keep toilet lids down
Keep doors to bathrooms and laundry room closed
· Never leave a bucket of even a small amount of water
A child in a baby bath seat or ring must be within arm’s reach every second.
For more statistics, safety tips, or information on other potentials hazards, check out www.safekids.org.