During the summer months in Florida and other States, children enjoy the free time and water related activities like swimming in the pool of summer camp, school, day care center, community center, friend, or neighbor. Splashing around and playing with friends to beat the summer heat can be great fun. Unfortunately for some children and families, these very same swimming pools can be the site of the serious personal injury or death of a child due to a drowning incident. Approximately 1000 children per year the United States drown. Another alarming statistic is that over 5000 children suffer personal injuries each year as a result of near drowning related incidents. While drowning does not discriminate by age or anything else, it is clear that it is the youngest children in the community who are at greatest risks. Drowning is reported as the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 1 and 4 years old. Many drowning related incidents and near drowning related incidents can be avoided through better and more attentive adult supervision during swim time. Furthermore, any time that a child is near a body of water whether it is a swimming pool, wading pool, lake, river, ocean, water park, etc . . . – measures should be taken to supervise children so that they do not wander off and go play in the water or aquatic related area without proper adult supervision and related safety measures.
For summer camps, day care centers, schools, and other child care providers, written rules and policies should be posted, distributed, and followed for all child care personnel. There should be trained lifeguards in place. In addition, personnel should be trained in CPR and other safety measures. Whether swimming activities are taking place at a school, day care center, camp, or even a neighbor’s house, here are some safety measures that should always be kept in mind:
1. Pay Attention. This is a simple safety measure but one that has been ignored to some extent due to technology. That’s right, our mobile phones and tablets have grabbed a piece or chunk of our attention. If a person is assigned the responsibility of being a water watcher or supervision, this is not the time to be searching the internet, Facebooking, or texting. It is not a time for multi-tasking. The full attention of the Water Watcher should be on the pool and the children in or around the pool. A drowning can take place in the time span that you read or respond to a text. Put down the phone and tablet and keep the eyes focused on the pool and the children.
2. Use Water Watchers. If there are five adults generally supervising around a pool area, this sounds good but can also be dangerous as well. These same five adults can be engaged in conversation or other involved with other distractions that take them away from the task at hand – monitoring the children in and around a pool. A better method would be to assign a Water Watcher or multiple Water Watchers who have the responsibility to be on watch or guard for any issues or problems in or around the pool. It is recommended to use some physical object to identify the Water Watchers. This can be in the form of a hat, vest, baton, life preserver, etc. . . . The physical object serves as a reminder to the Water Watcher to remind on alert during the time that the Water Watcher is on duty. It also serves as a good communication device as to who the assigned Water Watcher is. A schedule should be formed and rotated so that no one person is on alert the whole time.
3. Swimming Education and Instruction. Children should be taught to swim at a very young age whenever possible. Children should also be taught to avoid pool and water areas unless there is adult supervision in place. Children should know that swimming alone is dangerous. If children are taught these important life lessons early on and consistently follow them, many drowning and near drowning incidents can be avoided
4. Boating and Aquatic Related Activities. A U.S. Coast Guard life jacket should alway be worn any time that a child or any other person for that matters participates in water sports or boating related activities. There is no substitute at all for this basis safety measure. If there are no enough life jackets for all participants, then cancel the excursion. Be prepared and make safety a top priority for all participants including but not limited to children.
5. CPR Training. Even with good supervision and safety measures in place, an drowning or near drowning incident can take place. At those times, it is important to have people in place who can administer CPR. It could take some time for Fire Rescue or a trained individual to arrive on the scene. As such, CPR by a responsible adult or even a teen can help save a life.
6. Pool Drains. Children have suffered injuries and even death around pool drains. Some pools are still equipped with a dangerous pool drain which can trap a child. Make sure children stay away from a pool drain. There is really no purpose whatsoever for a pool drain to be an area of play.
By following the above safety measures and tips, many drowning and near drowning related incidents can be avoided. If a child suffers injuries or dies from a drowning related incident, there may be a cause or action or case to pursue by the parents of the child. This is certainly the situation when the drowning or near drowning incident could have been avoided with better supervision and safety measures. Certainly, swimming and water related activities are a source of fun for children during summer months and other times of the years. Swimming pools and other bodies of water can also be sources of great danger and hazard for children. That is why the above safety measures are so important. Follow them and make sure that children are safe and and near swimming pools and other bodies of water.
The book titled – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know has chapters on Swimming Pool and Water Related Injuries (Drownings), School Injuries, Playground Injuries, Day Care Center Injuries, Automobile Accidents, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.