Maintaining multiple layers of protection to keep children and teens safe around water is especially important as we continue to spend more time at home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“We know that this is a ‘perfect storm’ — with many parents working from home and distracted,” says Melissa Sutton, board president for the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona.
Children who already have spent the end of the school year sheltered at home may also be spending more time at home than usual this summer. Even though camps and sports programs have been given an “all clear” to operate, many parents may opt for another few weeks of caution.
If you suddenly become aware that a child is missing, Sutton says, “always check the closest body of water first.”
The Coalition promotes three core principles of drowning prevention, called the ABC’s of Water Safety:
A is for ADULT. A sober adult must always be with children around water. The adult must watch swimmers with their eyes and not be doing anything else. They shouldn’t be reading, talking on the phone, or doing chores like yard work or washing the car.
B is for barrier — something that keeps you away from danger. A few examples of barriers around water are a fence around a pool with a self-closing self-latching gate or a closed lid on a toilet or a closed door leading to the bathroom. A pool fence with a broken gate is not a barrier. An open bathroom door is not a barrier because a small child could get into the full bathtub.
C is for Classes. Everyone should take swimming lessons to learn how to swim. Older kids and adults should take CPR classes so they know what to do in case of an emergency. C is also for Coast Guard-approved lifejacket. Anyone who does not know how to swim must wear one when in or on the water. Floaties are toys and do not count as life vests.
The Coalition also is using its Facebook page to educate families about water safety messages, along with providing helpful tools and resources to keep kids busy. Find more information at preventdrownings.org