School's are closed, summer is here, and while this may be the oddest summer in decades, there will still be water play and it is still so important for us to talk about water safety, as we do every year at this time.
According to the CDC, ten people die daily from drowning, and of those ten, two are children aged 14 and younger. But to mine down even deeper into the data, accidental drowning is the leading cause of death in children ages 1-4. Little ones can drown in as little as 1-2 inches of water in pools, bathtubs and even buckets. And overall, Black children are 5x more likely to drown than their white counterparts because of the history of segregation in swimming spaces, which resulted in swimming not being learned and taught to younger generations.
In fact in 2017, USA Swimming, the governing body for the sport of swimming in the U.S., found that 64 % of Black children have low or no swimming ability! This is a life-threatening statistic.
While learning to swim is important and many local YMCA's and public pools do offer low-cost and FREE classes, knowing how to swim is not an end-all solution to water safety. Drowning accidents usually occur during moments when no-one is swimming and kids are unsupervised.
So here are some things you can do to make sure your summer is safe and fun:
- NEVER leave your child unattended around any bodies of water. Too many tragedies begin with "I went in to answer the phone, and… " or "I swear I saw him here 5 minutes ago..." In addition to pools, be mindful of tubs, beach buckets and basins that you might fill to water your newly-planted gardens. And yes, even toilets are a drowning hazard.
- If you, the adult in charge of supervision, do not know how to swim, take lessons! John Legend did as an adult, after he had his first child, Luna!
- If you have small children and you own a pool (in-ground or above-ground), be sure that it is enclosed by a gate with a fence that is at least 4 feet high, that the gate fully surrounds your pool, and that it has a lock. Don’t forget to remove any chairs, tables or other items that children can climb onto to get over the gate.
- Empty all kiddie pools when not in use. This keeps mosquitoes away too.
- Do not indulge in alcohol or any other mind-altering substances while supervising your children in water. This can cloud your judgment and alter your reaction time.
- Recognize the signs of drowning and dry (or secondary) drowning. Not every drowning child screams and kicks. And sometimes, after a water scare, a child can have residual water in their lungs which can cause persistent coughing, trouble breathing, and extreme tiredness. Be sure to contact your pediatrician if you have concerns.
Never be more than an arm’s length from infants and toddlers when they are in water. The American Academy of Pediatrics states :
The bottom line is nothing beats adult supervision, by adults who can swim. Add as many of the above layers of safety as possible to provide the best protection for your children.
HAVE A SAFE SUMMER !