photo via flickr.com
With the warm weather already here, many local families are venturing to the beach or to backyard pools for a little relief from the heat. And while swimming and splashing are fun, healthy ways to spend time in the summer, parents and caregivers cannot forget that safety is of paramount importance. The CDC reports that an average of ten people per day die from drowning in the U.S., and one quarter of those are children under the age of fourteen. Unfortunately, at Willows, we’ve seen first-hand the heartbreaking results of drownings and near-drownings in local water and hope never to see similar tragedies again.
Therefore, the first and most important rule for water safety is also the most obvious: never leave children unattended near bodies of water. Toddlers and young children along the shoreline or in pool areas should be within an arm’s reach of the adult charged with their supervision. For older children who can swim, a designated adult should keep his or her eyes on the swimmers at all times.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently changed its stance on swimming classes for toddlers. In the past, the group had said that swim lessons might give toddlers and parents a false sense of security when swimming. Now the AAP says lessons for children as young as one year old can be appropriate. That said, even if a child can swim, he or she must be supervised. (And parents, please don’t allow “swimmies” or “noodles” or other flotation devices to take the place of adult supervision. This holds true even when there’s a lifeguard on duty. The best way to prevent drowning is to keep your eyes on your child.)
While drowning is our number one concern, it’s important to remember that other injuries can occur around the pool if children are not careful. Remind little ones to walk, not run, on slippery pool surfaces. Never allow them to dive or do “flips” in shallow water. And, if possible, keep the rough horseplay to a minimum.
Finally, since we live along the coast, it’s important to address safety while boating. Under Connecticut law, children 12 or younger are required to wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket while a vessel is underway, unless they are below deck or in an enclosed cabin. We recommend that children wear life jackets on the dock as well. Among those who drowned during boating accidents in 2008, 9 out of 10 were not wearing life jackets.
Enjoy your summer! Stay cool … and be safe