The summer is here! And with summer and the increase in water activities, the risk of drowning is lurking. In Florida, this is a risk that is present year-round, since we do enjoy warm weather and access to bodies of water throughout the year. Drowning in children is something that can happen very fast and go unnoticed, and it can be lethal in many cases. Unfortunately, Florida leads the country in drowning deaths for the 1-4 age group in the past 10 years (1,945 deaths total). These could be preventable! But we all have to work together to prevent drowning.
Supervision is one of the most important things that you can do when a child is near or on any body of water. This includes the bathtub. A child may slide in the bathtub and drown in an inch of water, while we went to get the towel in the other room and came back. It happens very fast! For that reason, children cannot be left alone, not even for a minute, when they are in or near water. If they are going to be in the pool or beach, there should be one person designated to supervise the child at all times. That person should not be on a phone or tablet, eyes should be on the children and should not be distracted, so they can act fast should something happen.
There is a lot of talk about the “layers of protection” to help prevent unintentional drowning. The first layer is supervision, as briefly discussed above. Next are the barriers and third is emergency preparedness. In terms of barriers, it is recommended to use a combination of them to increase the effectiveness. Barriers include pool fences with self latching and self closing gates, pool covers and alarms in doors/windows and in the pool itself. To be prepared in case of an emergency, there should be a phone nearby in case there is need to call 9-1-1. Swim lessons can be very helpful and can reduce the risk of drowning by 88%, but do not make the child drown proof (they still need supervision!). It is a good idea to get a CPR certification to be able to help the child while awaiting help from first responders in case of emergency.
I could go on and on talking about all the things we can do to prevent drowning in our children, as I think this is a very important topic and so much can be done to protect our kids! I will leave you with a few sites that are useful, and you can peruse at your leisure. In summary, 1 child drowning is too many and we all need to work together as parents and as a community to help prevent these tragedies.