Stories about: water safety

Top tips for water safety and drowning prevention

Water safety in children.As summer approaches, families head outdoors for fun ways to beat the heat. One of the most cherished summertime activities is swimming — whether in a pool, lake or beach.

But each summer, it’s important to remind ourselves of the sobering statistic that drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here are a few tips to keeping your family safe in the water this summer.

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Dangers of kiddie and inflatable pools

Tuesday marked the first day of summer. It means fun in the sand and surf, but with it often comes tragic stories about children drowning. But it’s not just in ground swimming pools and rip tides that are dangerous to young swimmers. Kiddie or inflatable pools, even with their limited amounts of water, are responsible for many of the season’s water related injuries. These pools are often bright colors and adorned with recognizable cartoon characters to attract young children, but their walls and supports are flimsy. With even a small amount of pressure they’ll bend or push downward. A child who runs up to a SpongeBob Square Pants pool and pushes on a picture of their favorite undersea friend can quickly have gallons of water dumped into his face and mouth. In some cases even a small amount can be deadly.

According to a new study, published in Pediatrics, there were 209 fatal drowning reported from 2001 through 2009 caused by portable, above ground pools. Most cases involved children younger than 5 years. When averaged together, this adds up to one toddler drowning death every five days during the summer months because of poorly supervised kiddie pools.

Not surprisingly, many of these deaths happened when the children were unattended, or when miscommunication between caregivers led to everyone assuming someone else was watching the children. Even when that confusion lasts only a matter of minutes, it can have deadly consequences. The same amount of time it takes to answer a phone call or check an email can be long enough for a child to drown.

Even if a child is taller than the standing water, drowning is still a very serious threat

In light of this information here’s a few safety tips to keep your child safe around water this summer.

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Water safety: Swimming pools aren’t the only drowning risk for toddlers

Lois Lee, MD, MPH
Lois Lee, MD, MPH, works in Boston Children’s Emergency Department Injury Prevention Program.

Every summer seems to bring a tragic reminder of the need for vigilance around children and swimming pools.

Drowning is the second leading cause of injury related death for kids in the U.S. One of the most common scenarios for these accidents involves toddlers drowning in swimming pools—usually when the parent thinks the child is safely inside the house.

Unfortunately, at this age, if a child ends up face down in the water, she usually does not have the cognitive ability or the coordination to pull herself out. Infants can drown in a just a few inches of water in the bathtub, which is why they should NEVER be left unsupervised in the tub. Toddlers can drown in water that is at a level less than their own standing height; so again, they should never be left unsupervised where there is standing water. This includes swimming pools, garden ponds, five gallon tubs and even toilets.

Every parent knows that toddlers need to be closely supervised at all times, but it only takes a blink of an eye for a toddler to wander away and get injured, especially around water. Considering the potential danger water poses, here are some important water safety practices every family should know.

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Swimming lessons may protect toddlers

37739985.thbHow young is too young to teach children to swim? It’s a question that arises each summer as children flock to pools to cool off, since drowning is the second leading cause of death due to injury among U.S. children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that children under 4 aren’t developmentally ready for swimming lessons, but a recent study in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine contradicts previous recommendations, suggesting that basic swimming skills can be taught at a young age and may offer children some protection in an emergency situation.

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