We are well aware of the individuals and the families affected by tragic drowning accidents in swimming pools, rivers and beaches. Recently, one of the Anthem of the Seas cruise ship’s swimming pools, and the drowning of a 3-year-old Pompton Plains girl.
Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States. Every day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that each year nearly 300 children under the age of five drown in a pool or spa and another 5,100 children under the age of 15 go to hospital emergency rooms for near-drowning injuries. Children between the ages of 1 and 3 and African American children between the ages of 5 and 19 are most at risk of drowning. More than 200 young children drown in backyard swimming pools each year.
To help prevent tragic deaths while at the water this summer, people need to be aware of their surroundings. They also need to make sure there are proper safety precautions taken before setting foot inside water.
Follow these safety tips by Red Cross whenever you are in, on or around water:
Make Water Safety Your Priority
- Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
- Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone. Even at a public pool or a lifeguarded beach, use the buddy system!
- Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate Red Cross water orientation and Learn-to-Swim courses.
- Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
- Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
- 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.
- Even if you do not plan on swimming, be cautious around natural bodies of water including ocean shoreline, rivers and lakes. Cold temperatures, currents and underwater hazards can make a fall into these bodies of water dangerous.
- If you go boating, wear a life jacket! Most boating fatalities occur from drowning.
- Avoid alcohol use. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance and coordination; affects swimming and diving skills; and reduces the body’s ability to stay warm.
Prevent Unsupervised Access to the Water
- Install and use barriers around your home pool or hot tub. Safety covers and pool alarms should be added as additional layers of protection.
- Ensure that pool barriers enclose the entire pool area, are at least 4-feet high with gates that are self-closing, self-latching and open outward, and away from the pool. The latch should be high enough to be out of a small child’s reach.
- If you have an above-ground or inflatable pool, remove access ladders and secure the safety cover whenever the pool is not in use.
- Remove any structures that provide access to the pool, such as outdoor furniture, climbable trees, decorative walls and playground equipment.
- Keep toys that are not in use away from the pool and out of sight. Toys can attract young children to the pool.
Maintain Constant Supervision
- Actively supervise kids whenever around the water—even if lifeguards are present. Do not just drop your kids off at the public pool or leave them at the beach—designate a responsible adult to supervise.
- Always stay within arm’s reach of young children and avoid distractions when supervising children around water.
Know What to Do in an Emergency. If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability
- Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
- If you own a home pool or hot tub, have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
- Enroll in Red Cross home pool safety, water safety, first aid and CPR/AED courses to learn how to prevent and respond to emergencies.