Monday marked the opening of many swimming pools, and cooling down, lounging, and playing in water couldn’t be a better indicator that school is out and summer is in. This is a good time to review pool and water safety, especially for young children.
After birth defects, drowning is the number one cause of death for children ages 1 to 4.
Toddlers are especially susceptible because of their curious natures. There are a few things you can do to reduce the risk of drowning. Here are the top 3:
- Talk to your children. They might not fully understand the dangers of being around water, but they will recognize the importance you place on water safety, especially if it is reaffirmed frequently.
- Pool Fence. The current recommendation is for a 4′ high fence on all four sides of the pool with slats that are no more than 4″ apart. (Wider slats can allow small children to slip through.) Think that’s unsightly? There are some very nice options, but I agree that a plain wooden slat fence isn’t the most attractive item around your summer oasis. You can always tell the neighbors that you’re protecting them from your mother-in-law’s cellulite or your peg-leg sister’s skinny dipping proclivity. If they have kids though, it is better to tell them it is to protect their children.
- Alarms. There are pool alarms, door chimes, and gate alarms that can add a layer of protection. Most toddler drownings occur when adults think the child is in the house or not around the water. The allure of the pool though is often too great for inquisitive toddlers though, and a chime on the door leading to the pool or an alarm on the gate surrounding the pool can alert parents or caregivers.
Toddlers are not alone for increased risk of drowning. Although the risk decreases, it again rises for adolescents (15-19 years old) who have the second highest fatal drowning rate of any age group. This doesn’t exclude teenagers that are good swimmers either.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more information about water safety on their website. Please review your knowledge of pool safety in an effort to keep kids safe around water this summer.