Water Safety and Drowning Prevention
Too often, firefighters hear people say, “it was just a few seconds.” Unfortunately, just a few seconds is all it takes for a child to drown. Drowning is a leading cause of death for children under the age of five.
Most of these children drown in their own backyard swimming pool, but others drown in bathtubs, toilets, dog water bowls, rivers, streams, and ponds. Small children are top heavy and they don’t have the upper body strength to lift themselves out of one of these dangerous situations. Even if the child survives the incident, they are often left with permanent brain damage.
Drowning and near drowning can be prevented, and you can help! Anyone involved with the supervision of children needs to be aware of the dangers associated with any body of water. Below are some useful tips to prevent these needless tragedies.
Nationally, about 80 children die from bathtub drownings per year. Here are some tips for keeping your child safe in the tub:
· Supervision. NEVER leave a child unattended in the bathtub for ANY REASON. There is nothing important enough to risk drowning! Children can drown in just a few inches of water, and can easily topple into the tub while you’re dashing out to answer the phone, get a towel, etc.
o Don’t run to answer the phone.
o Don’t check to see who’s at the door.
o Don’t leave your child to be watched by an older brother or sister.
MAKE NO EXCEPTIONS TO THESE RULES!
· Get supplies first. Collect soap, towel, diaper, clothing, toys, and any other items you plan on using before you even run the bath water. Place these items where you can reach them easily.
· Water heater. To reduce the risk of scalding, set your home’s water heater to a maximum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. A good test: You should be able to hold your hand under the tap even when the hot water alone is running.
· Faucet covers. Placing a soft, insulated cover over the bath tub faucet is a prudent safeguard against accidental burns or bumps. They are available at many baby-supplies stores.
· Slips and Falls. Prevent bathtub slips and falls by placing a rubber mat in the tub or affixing non-slip adhesive decals or strips to the bottom of the tub.
· Electrical hazards. Keep electrical devices (including hair dryers, curling irons, and electric razors) well away from the tub.
· Slippery floors. Be sure to use (and teach your children to use) extra caution and keep a non-slip bathroom rug by the side of the tub for your child to step onto after bathing.
Whether you are vacationing on a beach, swimming in a pool, tubing down a river or boating in a lake…Water safety must be practiced where ever water is present!
Here are some simple water safety tips to follow when planning your next family outing.
· Enforce the same safety rules you use at home. Take time to explain the importance of following these rules.
· Never allow children to swim unsupervised in a hotel/motel pool: Never assume someone else is watching your child.
· Check out the pool before you swim: Is the water clean and clear? Where is the deep end? Is there a lifeguard on duty? Where is the rescue equipment, and how is it used? Where is the phone, and can you dial out directly?
· When staying at a relative or friend’s home look for possible water hazards (pools, ponds, bathtubs, etc.)
· When boating, wear a Coast Guard approved lifejacket: When planning boating events, make sure to pack a lifejacket for each person. Children are required to wear a lifejacket at all times in a boat in many states.
· Know what is in and under open water area: Find out about hazards such as marine life, parasites, currents, drop-offs, very cold water, or submerged objects. Enter all unfamiliar water feet first.
· If water is shared by boats, BE VISIBLE: Have your child wear a bright colored lifejacket or swim cap, stay close to shore while swimming, and actively watch for boats.
· Know what to do if your child falls in the river: Go downstream immediately to position yourself to help.