What Every Parent Needs to Know About National Drowning Prevention Month

How to ensure that your child is safe in and around the water

As summer approaches, Philadelphia-area families are looking forward to the start of pool, beach and boating season. While families make plans for pool parties and beach vacations, water safety needs to be top of mind — particularly for young children.

May is recognized as Water Safety and Drowning Prevention Month across the country. During this time, communities work together to call attention to the steps we can all take to keep all swimmers (and especially children) safe around water.

Here are some statistics that every parent needs to know:

  • Drowning is the leading cause of injury death to children ages 1 to 4 and the second leading cause of injury death for children ages 1 to 14.
  • Thousands of children are hospitalized each year for nonfatal drowning incidents. Many sustain lifelong, profound, permanent brain damage.
  • A child can drown in as little as 1 inch of water, in as little time as 20 seconds.
  • Most drownings occur in May, June, July and August.

We need to make it a priority to protect children in our community and beyond from this preventable tragedy. So what can parents do to keep their kids safe in and around water?

The most important factor in keeping kids safe around water is without a doubt constant supervision.  Watch children around any water environment (pool, lake, tub, toilet, bucket of water), no matter what skills your child has acquired and no matter how shallow the water. Be close enough to reach the child at all times, particularly for young children. Because drowning occurs quickly and quietly, adults should not be involved in any other distracting activity while supervising children in or around water.

Parents should also keep these additional water safety guidelines in mind:

  1. Wear a life jacket!
  2. Act. Throw! Don’t go.
  3. Take swimming lessons.
  4. Educate: Learn swim safety skills.
  5. Respect, play it cool and follow the rules.

1. Wear a life jacket!

One of the easiest ways to increase safety in the water is to wear a life jacket. There are plenty of different types of life jackets to fit all sizes — and children should wear child-sized life jackets and not adult ones, which won’t fit properly. Life jackets help to keep your head above water so you can continue to breathe properly in case continuing to swim isn’t feasible (muscle cramp, injury, tiredness, etc.). Keep in mind that the use of flotation devices and inflatable toys cannot replace parental supervision.

2. Act: Throw! Don’t go.

Do your kids know what to do in a swimming emergency? They should ACT! Their first instinct may be to go toward a person having trouble in the water. Instead, they should THROW a life preserver to someone in trouble — and DON’T GO! That way, they aren’t putting themselves in jeopardy as well and are truly able to help.

3. Take swimming lessons.

Knowing how to swim provides so many benefits to kids – but it is an extremely valuable life skill because it teaches kids how to take care of themselves should they accidentally end up in trouble in the water. Experts recommend regular swim instruction by highly-trained instructors following a proven curriculum so that kids learn basic water safety skills.

4. Educate: Learn swim safety skills.

Swimming is fun, but it’s important that kids learn how to be safe in and around the pool. In addition to a plethora of swim skills, our instructors especially focus on the Top 5 Things All Kids Should Know How to Do in the Water to keep them safe while they’re having fun.

5. Respect: Play it cool and follow the rules.

Rules are there for a reason — especially when it comes to rules for the pool. Walk, don’t run around the pool. Make sure an adult is watching. No horseplay. Have fun out there — but keep it safe!

Meg Kevane is a mother of three and the owner of Goldfish Swim School Fort Washington, opening in May 2015. Conveniently located at 185 Commerce Dr. in Fort Washington, Goldfish Swim School provides swim instruction to children ages 4 months to 12 years-old in a unique setting with highly trained instructors, small class sizes (max 4:1 student-to-teacher ratio), warm 90-degree pools, and a state-of-the-art water purification system. In addition to swim lessons, Goldfish Swim School Fort Washington also offers weekly family swims (for both members and non-members) and birthday party packages. Goldfish Swim School Fort Washington is currently registering students for lessons. For more information, visit the website or call 215-220-3828.

Categories: MK Memo