According to the American Pediatrics Association, drowning is the primary cause of injury and death in children ages one to four. While toddlers are most at risk, any child can have an accident that results in drowning (even if they know how to swim). If you take your children to a pool or have a pool on your property, it’s important to be aware of the risk. Children can drown in as little as one inch of water, and it can happen in total silence.
Just like with other risks children face, the best thing you can do as a parent to reduce the likelihood of a tragedy from occurring is to equip yourself with prevention measures and learn how to be prepared in the event of an emergency. Here are six ways you can help prevent drowning:
1. Supervise At All Times
It’s easy to get distracted and lose track of your child when they’re in the pool if they know how to swim. Even if it’s your older child or a good swimmer in the pool, you should aim to remain undistracted and maintain focus on your child. Infants, toddlers, and children who can’t swim should always be at your arm’s length when in the water.
Flotation devices such as vests, water wings, tubes, and rafts often provide parents a false sense of security. Inflatable flotation devices can become punctured and instantly pose a threat to your child’s safety. Just because your child is using one doesn’t mean they’re safe from harm when you look away. While foam toys like kickboards and “noodles” might help your child float, they don’t prevent drowning. Never consider flotation devices as substitutes for constant parental supervision.
2. Teach Kids How to Swim
The American Academy of Pediatrics (APA) says that most children aged four and older can learn how to swim. This significantly lowers the risk of drowning when kids enter the pool unnoticed by parents. However, they still should be under constant supervision to prevent drowning. Taking your child to swimming lessons allows them to get consistent, professional training and to learn proper swimming techniques that can aid them in the event of an emergency.
3. Prevent Your Child From Going Outside Unnoticed
According to the APA, most drowning incidents involving toddlers occur when they enter the pool unnoticed. Make it impossible for your young child to leave the house without you knowing. Use doorknob covers so they can’t turn the doorknobs. If you aren’t already, get in the habit of locking all your doors that allow access to the outside. If you let your toddler play unsupervised in a playroom or bedroom, have a video monitor in that room to keep an eye on them from wherever you are in the home. This way, you can see if they’ve left the room and are headed elsewhere.
4. Fence In Your Pool at Home
Blocking off your child’s ability to get outdoors unsupervised is the first line of defense. Secondly, you should have a barrier around the pool itself, gated with a latch out of children’s reach. If your child was to get outside and you weren’t aware of it, this gated fence could prevent over half of any pool-related drowning possibilities, according to research. The fence needs to be four feet high and lack gaps your child can slip through. The gate should open away from the pool and be self-closing and self-latching.
If your pool is above ground, remove ladders from it when the pool isn’t in use. Do not use pool covers as a substitute for a proper fence and gate around your pool, as children can get under the cover.
5. Keep Pool Toys Out of Sight When Not Using the Pool
Putting pool toys away and out of sight is an important habit for pool safety. Leaving pool toys in the water when the pool isn’t in use can tempt children to get into the water unsupervised. Even if they aren’t attempting to enter the water, a child may want to retrieve a toy and end up falling in.
6. Get CPR Training
CPR training is great for any parent to have under their belt in case of an emergency, and this couldn’t be truer for parents who are pool owners. The American Red Cross offers CPR and First Aid classes where you can receive expert training for a reasonable price.
Get Expert Advice on Child Safety from Your Child’s Pediatrician
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