Critical Water Safety Skills
Drowning is the number one cause of accidental death for children ages one through four. Often silent and occurring in less than 20 seconds, it’s no wonder America has deemed May as National Water Safety Month, a time to educate and raise awareness of a silent, but deadly killer.
“Having a designated time devoted to promote and teach our country water safety is so important, especially seeing that downing takes 3,500 lives annually,” stated Rita Goldberg, former professional swimmer and CEO and founder of British Swim School, the pioneer of gentle, non-traditional infant water safety programs. “While this is a tragic truth, practicing basic swim safety techniques can be utilized in order to reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent and avoid becoming a statistic.”
To educate Americans on preventative measures to avoid a potential tragedy, Goldberg provides six water safety tips and techniques to combat factors that heighten a chance of drowning.
- Water Watchers – While this may seem obvious, constant and active supervision is necessary when a child is near water in a pool, tub, bucket, or ocean. Designate a “Water Watcher” who understands the basics of swimming (floating, moving through water), as well as CPR and first aid. The Water Watcher should always be on duty, paying attention to the pool, and free of distraction.
- Flotation Devices vs. Toys – The only devices to be used for safety are life jackets approved by the US Coast Guard. While personal flotation devices may seem harmless, do not rely on toys or swim aids, as children can easily remove or slip out of them. Remember, no device or toy is a substitute for supervision.
- Barriers – Install a four-sided isolation fence with self-closing and self-latching gates around backyard swimming pools to avoid a wandering child falling into a pool with no supervision.
- Communication – Talk to children to ensure the importance of proper safety rules and pull behavior are understood. To go a step further, have a child take a water safety pledge vowing to obey pool rules and never swim alone.
- Swim Lessons – Children are safer when they master swimming skills at an early age. Qualified instructors in numerous public and private community swimming programs can provide ongoing development of swimming skills.
- Know the Symptoms – Remain vigilant for 24 hours after a close call in water, even if the child appears happy with minimal symptoms. If a child begins to exhibit respiratory symptoms or unusual behavior, seek medical attention immediately. Dry and secondary drowning can occur up to 24 hours following an incident.
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