Practice Safety Tips Around the Water

Summer is in full swing. While having fun at the pool, beach or lake, consider these important safety tips while keeping the kids cool.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, drowning has been one of the leading causes of accidental death in U.S. children ages 1-19. It happens more commonly in boys, and in certain groups (blacks, Native American/Native Alaskan).

Here are some safety tips to ensure a fun day at the pool.

Constant supervision: When kids are in the pool, parents need to be watchful at all times, even with kids who can swim. Keep your eyes on the child and not on other tasks or distractions like conversations with others, telephones or other media.

Touch supervision: Remain at arms length for smaller children, even in a baby or wading pool.

Learn CPR: adults should know the life saving skills needed when responding to an emergency. Also, call 911 immediately to get medical attention.

Don’t get complacent: Just because your child can swim does not mean they are safe in the pool. Also floaties –those inflatable arm bands – are not life preservers.

Inflatable, portable pools, while ideal for many families for ease and convenience, can also be a danger. Most families do not install fencing around them and they fall outside building codes requiring a pool barrier. This means that kids can easily access them just by leaning over the side. Half of swimming pool drownings can be prevented by completely securing the pool area from the rest of the yard.

Consider early swim lessons. New research from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development shows that children from ages 1-4 do benefit from formal swim lessons. These kids who have had water safety instruction may be less likely to drown. But not all kids are ready for swim lessons between ages 1-4. Kids who are developmentally ready to learn may certainly benefit. And, the AAP did not endorse the infant safety swim programs designed for babies under one year of age.

Finally, remember to apply high SPF sunscreen and repeat throughout the day if the kids are enjoying many hours in and out of the water.

By Jay Rust, PA, ThedaCare Physicians-New London.