The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates and that drowning remains the second-leading cause of accidental death for children ages 1 to 14.
Remember these tips to keep your children safe while they splash:
- Designate an adult whose sole responsibility is to watch the children in or around the water. This person should not be distracted by other activities such as talking on the phone, reading or supervising other children.
- Stay within arm's length of toddlers and children if you are going to be around any water – even a small mop bucket of water or a bathtub can pose a drowning risk to small children. Vigilance is key. Most tragedies occur in the few minutes the child is unsupervised.
- Install barriers around your pool that are at least 4 feet high and have locking latches that are out of children's reach.
- Remove any toys, balls or floats in or around the pool after use. Children may be tempted to reach for these and can fall in as a result.
- Never replace life jackets with water wings, inner tubes or foam noodles – these are not designed as proper water safety devices.
- Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Performing CPR before paramedics arrive could make a difference in life or death in a potential drowning.
- Keep a cell phone handy and rescue equipment by the pool at all times.
- Remember, large bodies of water – pools, lakes, rivers, ponds – are not the only danger. Children can drown in just a few inches of water, so it cannot be emphasized enough that young children should be supervised around all water, including mop buckets, toilets and bath tubs.
- Teach children to obey posted safety rules. Review them when you enter the pool area and do not allow horseplay on the sides of the pool area.
- Diving safety is extremely important. Pay extra attention when diving platforms are present and note and obey where diving is prohibited. Diving headfirst into a pool that is not deep enough can have tragic and permanent consequences.
- It is important for all family members, even adults, to be aware of water safety and set a good example for younger children and teens. Avoid mixing alcohol and swimming and always swim with a buddy, especially when taking part in ocean or river activities.
- Even experienced swimmers should follow the buddy system. A single moment could save your life.