Think “safety first” with fun-in-the-water activities. Be the “on duty lifeguard.” Never take lightly the dangerous threat of the water’s dark side. Especially in the summer, don’t let your child become a grim drowning statistic.
Most children do not drown kicking, screaming, splashing, and yelling loud enough for the entire lake to hear the word “help!” Contrary to popular belief, it takes a matter of seconds for a child to “silently sink” in a body of water and drown.
The National Safety Council reports that injuries and deaths by drowning are the #1 cause of death in children under Age 5 and the second-leading cause of death among children under Age 15.
For this reason, when it comes to water activities – like swimming in a lake, pool, or ocean – “helicopter parenting” instincts need to kick in and every parent should be their child’s “dedicated lifeguard.”
In my days as a lifeguard on a busy beach, it was routine to conduct “body searches” in the water. Fortunately – but unfortunately – most missing children weren’t found in the water. Instead, they were found wandering around in the parking lot, snack bar, and shower and locker room areas.
The #1 Lifeguard Grievance: Some moms and dads park themselves near the lifeguard chairs and do not pay attention to their children. The assumption… lifeguards are watching their children playing – in and out – of the water while they read, socialize, and sometimes take a nap.
As a former certified lifeguard and water safety instructor, here are the…
Top 5 Water Safety Tips to Prevent Unintentional Drowning
1. Never Turn Your Back Away From a Child.
Be in the water or at the water’s edge with your child at all times, and turn off all electronic devices. This is not just limited to environments like swimming pools, hot tubs, and outdoor recreational water activity areas. This also includes being close to the everyday bath tub for young children. Be 100% “on alert” at all times. It’s also wise to take a CPR course.
2. Keep Partying to a Minimum.
Especially if you live on the Lake, or have a swimming pool, outdoor parties are part of the summer fun. Don’t assume guests are watching your children. It’s not likely. Alcoholic drinks impair judgment, and loud music can drown out signs of distress in which the drowning child dies unnoticed.
Seasonal drowning incidents happen all too often every year. Unfortunately, many drownings happen because parents were not paying attention to their children while hosting or attending waterside parties.
3. Children Need to Wear Life Jackets.
In Connecticut, the law is up to Age 12 for wearing a life jacket while boating. Swimming aids like floaties, kickboards, and noodles are not proper safety flotation devices. Especially if your child is not a strong swimmer, put a life vest on him even around a swimming pool area or while playing in the sand at the beach. A friend’s preteen daughter drowned when her small kayak tipped over in rough water. She was not wearing a life vest.
4. A Fenced in Pool, or Enclosed Yard by the Lake, is NOT Enough.
Install a security system outside, around the pool or closed area, and inside of your house. Don’t forget about the pool and hot tub alarms, too. It just takes the alarm system being off once for a child to walk out the door. He will gravitate to the water. It’s a natural fascination.
5. Swim Lessons Save Lives.
Yes, swim lessons help and are proven to greatly reduce accidental drowning incidents. Each year water safety and awareness advocates advise parents to enroll their children in swim lessons. But, even the confident child with years of swim lessons may still need rescuing. So, never get too comfortable with your child’s water safety. Even the overly confident swimmer can wind up in trouble.
This Article by Alicia Sakal is Sponsored By:
THE DIVE SHOP AQUATIC CENTER
Swim Lesson Registration for July and August sessions are happening now at The Dive Shop Aquatic Center in Brookfield.
For children of all ages, and adults, too, small group lessons – from beginner to advanced – are offered seven days a week!
Call 203.775.2755 to check for availability times and sign up.
My 10-year-old son and I swim together at The Dive Shop. Owner Gary Gordon and I were discussing how vital it is for children and adults to learn how to swim. So, we teamed up to get the word out. – Alicia
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Alicia and her family live in a lake community and enjoy boating and swimming together. She was also a content writer / contributor for Yahoo! and wrote child safety and drowning prevention articles.
Except for the contributed underwater image, all photos are by Alicia Sakal.