A guest post from the Drowning Prevention Coalition
Drownings are a top cause of preventable death for Arizona children, especially those between ages 2 and 5. Although drownings most commonly occur in backyard pools, other sources of water should also be considered. These include spas, bathtubs, toilets — and even ice chests!
While young children have the highest rate of drowning, water safety should be top of mind for all ages. Making the assumption that someone knows how to swim can be dangerous. Many teens and young adults have drowned simply because they were in water above their swimming ability or were not wearing appropriate safety equipment.
Drownings are lightning fast and silent. Changes can be made right now to help reduce any family’s risk of drowning. It’s really pretty simple: Practice the ABC’s of Water Safety.
A is for ADULT SUPERVISION.
A sober adult must always be with children around water. The adult must watch swimmers with their eyes and resist any distractions. They shouldn’t be reading, talking on the phone, or doing chores like yard work or washing the car. Watching through the window is not effective supervision. Even Olympic swimmers have a lifeguard on the pool deck to ensure nothing unexpected happens in the water. Turning away for just a few seconds can be tragic.
B is for BARRIER.
A barrier is something that isolates danger. Around water, for example, this could be a locked fence around a pool or a closed door leading to the bathroom. A pool fence with a broken gate is not a barrier. An open bathroom door does not block a small child from accessing a full bathtub or even reaching into the toilet. These should be kept in place for those moments children are not expected to be in the water. Barriers can give caregivers a few extra moments to find children before they reach a water hazard.
C is for COAST GUARD-APPROVED LIFE VESTS AND CLASSES.
Anyone who does not know how to swim must wear a Coast Guard-approved life vest — even in the swimming pool! Also, these personal flotation devices should always be worn by all ages on open water, even though the law doesn’t require it after age 12. They help swimmers stay on top of the water when they fatigue, which allows time for help to arrive. Water wings and floaties are toys and do not count as lifesaving devices. As for classes, everyone should take swimming lessons and older kids and adults should learn CPR so they know what to do in case of an emergency.
Visit PreventDrownings.org to learn more about water safety.
The Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona is a community-based organization comprised of parents, health and safety professionals, and business leaders who want to reduce the risk of drownings in their communities.