Drowning is the second leading cause of injury-related death for children (aged 1 through 14 years), accounting for 940 deaths in 1998. You can greatly reduce the chances of you or your children becoming drowning or near-drowning victims by following a few simple safety tips:
- Whenever young children are swimming, playing, or bathing in water, make sure an adult is constantly watching them. By definition this means that the supervising adult should not read, play cards, talk on the phone, mow the lawn, or do any other distracting activity while watching children.
- Never swim alone or in unsupervised places. Teach children to always swim with a buddy.
- Keep small children away from buckets containing liquid: 5-gallon industrial containers are a particular danger. Be sure to empty buckets when household chores are done.
- Never drink alcohol during or just before swimming, boating, or water skiing. Never drink alcohol while supervising children. Teach teenagers about the danger of drinking alcohol and swimming, boating, or water skiing.
- To prevent choking, never chew gum or eat while swimming, diving, or playing in water.
- Learn to swim. Enroll yourself and/or your children aged 4 and older in swimming classes. Swimming classes are not recommended for children under age 4.
- Learn CPR (cardio-pulmonary resusitation). This is particularly important for pool owners and individuals who regularly participate in water recreation.
- Do NOT use air-filled swimming aids (such as “water wings”) in place of life jackets or life preservers with children. These can give parents and children a false sense of security and increase the risk of drowning.
- Check the water depth before entering. The American Red Cross recommends 9 feet as a minimum depth for diving or jumping.
If you have a swimming pool at your home:
- Install a four-sided, isolation pool-fence with self-closing and self-latching gates around the pool. The fence should be at least 4 feet tall and completely separate the pool from the house and play area of the yard.
- Prevent children from having direct access to a swimming pool.
- Install a telephone near the pool. Know how to contact local emergency medical services. Post the emergency number, 911, in an easy-to-see place.
- _ Learn CPR.
Additional Tips for Open Water
- Know the local weather conditions and forecast before swimming or boating. Thunderstorms and strong winds can be extremely dangerous to swimmers and boaters.
- Restrict activities to designated swimming areas, which are usually marked by buoys.
- Be cautious, even with lifeguards present.
- Use U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices (life jackets) when boating, regardless of distance to be traveled, size of boat, or swimming ability of boaters.
- Remember that open water usually has limited visibility, and conditions can sometimes change from hour to hour. Currents are often unpredictable—they can move rapidly and quickly change direction. A strong water current can carry even expert swimmers far from shore.
- Watch for dangerous waves and signs of rip currents—water that is discolored, unusually choppy, foamy, or filled with debris.
- If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore. Once you are out of the current, swim toward the shore.
Source: Center For Disease Control and Safety http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/factsheets/drown.htm