Water safety is important for all ages, but especially for younger kids. While you may think you are water-safety conscious there are some common mistakes that parents can make about kids drowning – did you know these?
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As parents, we firstly need to acknowledge that drowning is a threat to our children. Then we need to understand the risks of drowning. Finally we need to take proper precautions.
Water-related tragedies happen quickly, silently and sometimes in just inches of water. They can happen beside others, who may be completely unaware. The facts are:
- About 1 in 5 people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger.
- For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency care for non-fatal submersion injuries.
- Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for under 4s.
- Boys are at increased risk of drowning accounting for 3/4 of child drowning deaths.
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Common Misconceptions About Kids Drowning
1. Thinking your child will be ok because they had swimming lessons
Just because your child has had some swimming lessons does not mean you should assume they are drown-proof.
Instead assume they still need supervision.
2. Assuming drowning is noticeable when it happens
Often people think that drowning is active, noisy and loud. In reality, it’s quick and quiet and can take between 30 and 60 seconds.
When the body goes into shock, you won’t see waving and shouting for help. A drowning person will bob in the water, but make no forward progress.
So watch out for signs of
- your child remaining upright in the water and not moving forwards
- your child’s eyes being glassy
- your child’s head being low in the water
- your child being quiet. Children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you need to get to them and find out why.
3. Assuming drowning only happens when children are expected to be at the water
Yes, drownings happen when kids are expected to be at the water source, e.g. at the pool and beach with their parents, but often drownings occur when children (particularly under-5s) were not expected to be at or in the pool at the time of the incident.
About 70 percent of under-5s in drowning accidents weren’t meant to be near a pool at the time.
This means being vigilant about where your child is in relation to the pool or water sources. Prevent your child going outside unnoticed by using child safety gates, door locks or closing bathroom doors.
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4. Having an adult nearby means your child is safe
Adults that are near kids in water could be being distracted by their phone, by chatting to others, or reading.
Be accountable, don’t just sit there on your phone. Make a pact with yourself: when you’re at the beach or pool or near water, put your phone on silent and stow it out of reach in your bag to keep from being tempted to use it.
Actively monitor the kids under your supervision. Take it in turns with other adults to be active supervisors.
Ongoing and active supervision of kids should be taking place any time there’s access to water until kids are in bed and/or the access to the water is completely closed off.
And parents should be within touch distance of non-swimmers and within arms’ reach for children younger than 4 around water. So you can grab them quickly if required and pull them to safety.
5. Water wings, inflatables or pool noodles will keep your child safe
Lots of products claim to help kids stay afloat, e.g. “water wings”, “floaties” and pool noodles. Your child should only use these when a parent or trustworthy adult is within arm’s length of them.
Remember air-filled or foam toys are not safety devices. They are not designed to keep swimmers safe, so never rely on these.
6. Kids only drown in larger areas of water like the pool or the sea
In fact, it only takes a few inches of water to drown a young child. This can be a bathtub or even a bucket of water or a puddle – all of these can pose drowning threats, to toddlers in particular.
It is important to remember:
- Never leave your child alone near standing water in the home and outside.
- Ensure all drains and manholes have tight-fitting covers.
- Cover rain water barrels, leaving just enough space for rain to get in and warn children to stay away from them.
- Always supervise children when using paddling pools.
- Warn children of the dangers of going near ponds, canals, rivers, etc.
- Supervise young children while in the bath.
- While jumping in muddy puddles is great fun, make sure you check the depth of any puddles as they could be deeper than they look.
5 Simple Tips to Follow to Prevent Kids Drowning
- Make sure all pools and spas are fenced off with barriers and child-proof locks/access.
- Always swim in a life-guarded area.
- Provide close and constant attention to children you are supervising in or near water.
- Children, inexperienced swimmers and all boaters should wear life jackets.
- Have your child learn swimming and water-safety survival skills.
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