The summer months wouldn’t be complete without some relaxing time at the pool. While a great way to cool down, it is alarming that 2/3 of water related deaths occur between May and August, and children are 100x more likely to die from drowning than from a gun. Now that we’re solidly into the Summer season, it is a great time to review ways to prevent drowning and water related injury.
Children are more likely than any age group to drown or experience injury when around water:
- Children under the age of 1 year are most likely to drown in the tub.
- Children between 1-4 years old are most likely to drown in swimming pools.
- Children between 4-17 years old are most likely to drown in natural water (lakes and the ocean, for example).
This isn’t to say people over the age of 17 are completely safe; people of all ages are at risk of drowning or injury without proper precautions.
Some tips that help keep everybody safe while enjoying the water are:
- Learn to swim. The earlier children are taught water safety and how to swim, the more likely they are to understand the dangers and take precaution. But, that does not mean knowing how to swim completely prevents drowning- reports say that 47% of children who drowned in pools reportedly knew how to swim.
- Supervision, supervision, supervision! For all age groups, nothing else helps prevent water related injury more than supervision. Assign an adult to always keep their eyes on those in the water, without distraction. Always stay at arms reach of young children. Do not just drop your kids off at the public pool or leave them at the beach- designate a responsible adult to supervise, even if a lifeguard is present. It is commonly thought that when people struggle in the water, there is splashing and noise that would alert others, but drowning is silent and why “eyes on the water” is a necessary tactic.
- Create barriers. Especially when children are present, consider ways to add layers of protection. Alarms and locks on house doors that open to pool areas, locks on pool ladders, and pool gates are all great ways to prevent kids from even getting to the water. Again, this isn’t a fool proof method- watch this video to see how even these precautions can be circumvented by agile kids! Also keep toys that are not in use away from the pool and out of sight. Toys can attract young children to the pool.
- Wear flotation devices. Kids and those inexperienced around water should wear flotation devices in the pool. Flotation devices should be used in conjunction with, not instead of, a supervising adult. It is also advised that everybody wears life jackets when boating, fishing, etc., in other bodies of water. Keep in mind that most boating fatalities occur from drowning.
- Learn CPR. In the event somebody does experience drowning, you can help buy time until emergency personnel arrive by administering CPR. You can sign up for classes hereand here, in the Tucson area.
- Establish rules for your family and enforce them without fail. For example, set limits based on each person’s ability, do not let anyone play around drains and suction fittings, and do not allow swimmers to hyperventilate before swimming under water or have breath-holding contests.
- Avoid alcohol use. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance and coordination, which consequently affects swimming and diving skills and also reduces the body’s ability to stay hydrated and warm.
- Wear sunscreen. While not directly related to water safety, skin protection is important, and should be addressed anytime we enjoy the outdoors- read our post here on sun safety.
Even if you do not plan on swimming, be cautious around natural bodies of water including ocean shorelines, rivers and lakes. Currents and underwater hazards can make a fall into such bodies of water dangerous and then difficult, if not impossible, to rescue.
With some precautions, water can be enjoyable and the perfect way to cool down during the sizzling summer days.
Here are a few more resources that share advice and statistics on water safety.