Research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that there are two major risk factors for accidental drowning of young children: (1) insufficient supervision and (2) lack of pool barriers. For children aged one to four years, the majority of accidental drownings occur in swimming pools. For older children, the majority of drownings happen in a lake, river or ocean.
Perhaps what is most surprising - and heartbreaking -- is that most pool drownings occur at home, while the parents are there and the child is only out of sight for a few minutes. A fence or other pool barrier can help prevent young children from getting quick access to inviting pools, and a pool alarm can help alert parents if a child unknowingly slips into the pool.
Based on their extensive research, the CDC offers these tips for preventing drowning and water-related injuries:
- Supervise children carefully whenever they are around water - in a bathtub, sink, pool or natural body of water. Adults should be paying careful attention and not become distracted by reading, talking on the phone or doing yard work.
- Teach children to swim at an early age. Participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% among children under the age of 4!
- Always have children swim with a buddy.
- Select swimming areas that have a lifeguard on duty.
- Use life jackets rather than inflatable toys or "water wings" to keep children safe when they are around water.
- Learn CPR - it could mean the difference between life and death.
- Install a four-foot fence around the entire pool that separates it from the yard and/or home. Use self-closing and self-latching gates that open outward.
- Use a pool alarm to alert you when someone has entered the water.
- Keep pool toys off the deck and out of the pool so that children are not attracted to them, and to prevent them from tripping and falling into the pool.
- Be aware of current weather conditions and forecasts – check online at weather.com and add the weather.com app to your smart phone.
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