Child Drownings How to Prevent Them
We all know how crazy children’s birthday parties can get. Pools are of the most fun features of any amazing party. The kids love it, the parents love it because the kids are tired, and it helps everyone cool off on a hot day. But this pool maybe a disaster in waiting. We’ve all heard the stories of children drowning while surrounded by adults who were enjoying their drinks and conversation assuming that someone was watching.
We all hope and believe that this will never happen to us. That our children will never suffer the same fate. While we truly hope that this is true for you as well, there are no such guarantees that you may not become another statistic. Child drownings are something that are under discussed in our culture. The feeling of shame and guilt prevents most parents or caregivers from speaking out about their experience. However, this ultimately proves to be a disservice as it allows this danger to continue under the radar of other parents.
Drownings are one of the leading causes of death in children. Every year 700 children die from water related incidents and more than 6,000 suffer non-fatal injuries. Keep in mind that while this number includes all incidents of drowning in any water source, half of those deaths occur in home pools.
We don’t want to scare you into not having a pool or being afraid of them. We simply want you to understand the severity and the implications of having one. It’s important that you know what safety features your pool needs and how to keep your children safe at your home, at a friend’s house, or anywhere else.
Talk About It
As upsetting as it is to talk about accidental child drownings, it’s important that the message is received by all parents. The more that we pass this information along, the more that all parents can work together to create safe environments for children to enjoy swimming. Without discussing the sad reality of these child drownings nothing is likely to change.
Make sure you also discuss this reality with your children. Of course, this takes a different approach but teaching your children how to be safe around water is important. Teach your children that it is not OK for them to go in or near any water without permission and a grown up being present. Parents may worry about scaring their children and that they won’t want to swim anymore. However, keep in mind that we consistently reinforce that certain things are dangerous and children are able to take in this information and continue on as normal.
Watching your children while they are in the pool is the single most important aspect of pool safety. Things such as phones, books, magazines or anything else that can distract us from actively watching our children can mean the difference between a great day and disaster.
Where things get really tricky is when there are large groups of people. Oftentimes parents assume that someone is watching the children because there’s so many parents around. However, if everyone believes that someone is watching, no one is actually watching. This is why it’s imperative that at events someone is designated as a water watcher and that is the only thing that they do during that time. Switch this roll out frequently so that everyone feels included and no-one gets burnt out from watching the children.
Learn What Child Drowning Looks Like
Many parents don’t actually know what a drowning child looks like because in movies it’s so dramatic and there’s a lot of screaming and commotion. In reality, drownings happen quickly and very quietly. Children typically will be vertical in the water they won’t splash, yell for help, or flail. They typically lean their head back and slowly will sink below the surface. Good safety means helping a child even if they may not be in trouble. They can always get back in the pool if they’re OK but make sure that any of these types of signs are recognized and addressed quickly.
Invest in Swim Lessons
Investing in swim lessons is another important aspect of pool safety. This is also important for parents who don’t have pools in their own yards. Your children may go visit someone who has one, or you’ll go to a birthday party at a public pool, or a day at the lake. Teaching your children how to swim gives you another level of security. Of course, it does not eliminate any of the other safety measures we have talked about, but it does mean that your child will be safer than someone who has not had proper swim lessons.
Have an Emergency Plan
Everyone thinks that they know what to do in case of an emergency. But if you don’t actually have a plan the emotions and stress that occur during an emergency can prevent you from thinking through what needs to be done clearly. This is why planning a specific action plan is necessary. Learning CPR is a great first step. This allows you to begin lifesaving measures immediately rather than having to wait for medical personnel to arrive. Get your friends involved with this as well and go to CPR classes together.
How to Keep a Safe Pool
Fencing around home pools is one of the absolute best ways to ensure that everyone is safe both in and out of the water. Children love pools, that’s why we have them, and they will want to swim even when you’re not able to properly watch them. Installing a pool safety fence that it has a self-closing, self-latching door prevents your children from being able to access the pool at all without your knowledge. Pool fences are not required in the US; however, they should be. In Australia almost all states require 4 sided non climbable pool fencing. Following implementation of that law pool child drownings dropped by half between 2011 and 2015.
Taking some of these safety measures can ensure that you and your family can have fun in the water without any added risk. Let’s change the cycle, let’s talk about the dangers of water, and spread awareness on how to address them. Then, let your children enjoy swimming and you can enjoy how tired they are later.