New information released by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) Pool Safely: Simple Steps Save Lives campaign, shows that 90 children younger than 15 were reported to have drowned in swimming pools since Memorial Day.
According to media reports, an additional 106 children of that age required emergency response for near-drowning incidents. They provide a sobering reminder of how a fun day at the pool can quickly turn tragic.
The figures show that young children and toddlers are especially vulnerable to drowning because 72 percent of the children reported to have drowned since Memorial Day were younger than 5 years old.
If you and your family are spending time in or around water, be sure to remember these safety tips from Safe Kids Kansas:
- Learn to swim. Formal swimming lessons can help reduce the risk of drowning – for both kids and adults. Among kids ages 1-4, the most vulnerable age group, the risk can be reduced by 88 percent. Most health club and public pool facilities offer swimming lessons, some even year-round. But don’t assume swimming lessons make your child immune to drowning.
- Learn infant and child CPR. Seconds count so the quicker the intervention, the better the outcomes. Check with your local American Red Cross office about CPR certification. In Wichita, call 316-219-4060.
- Actively supervise. Drowning happens quickly and silently. Adults who were present when a child drowns often were distracted in some way – most children who drown were out of sight for less than five minutes with one or both parents present. Actively supervise a child when around water and have a phone within reach to call for help. Designate a “Water Watcher” in waterside gatherings of adults and children.
- Put up barriers. Water is an attractive draw for young kids. Ensure you have no standing water around, such as in buckets or small kiddie pools, to entice small children. Cover and lock hot tubs when not in use. And make sure your pool has four-sided fencing and a self-closing, self-latching gate. According to the CDC, there is an 83 percent reduction in the risk of drowning with a four-sided pool fence compared to a three-sided. If you use your home as the fourth side of the pool enclosure, outfit any exits with safety locks and alarms to warn you if a child has wandered outside.
- Use life jackets. Never use air-filled toys, including popular water wings, or noodles as safety devices. If your child can’t swim, stay within arm’s reach. More than 700 people drown each year in open water boating incidents and nine out of 10 were not wearing a life jacket. Have a child wear a life jacket every time you go boating or even stand dockside. Adults should avoid alcohol use, which is the contributing cause of one in five reported boating accidents. If you enjoy frequent boating, take a boating safety class offered through the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks or the U.S. Coast Guard.
- Remember pool drains are an often-overlooked drowning hazard. The powerful suction forces can trap a child underwater or cause internal injuries, so equip pools and spas with an anti-entrapment drain cover and an automatic device that can shut off the drain’s suction.
- Don’t leave toys in or near the pool. They could attract unsupervised kids.
- Empty and store kiddie pools when not in use.
- Keep rescue equipment, a phone and emergency numbers by the pool.