Summer Swim Safety
LifeandHomes reminds you that keeping children safe in and around water allows everyone to enjoy summer water activities. Drowning is the leading cause of death for children 1 to 4 years old, and the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children 5 to 14 years old. Drowning can happen in seconds and is often silent. It can happen to anyone, any time there is access to water. This includes pools and lakes, and also smaller water bodies like bathtubs and water-filled buckets. However, drowning is preventable.
Drowning is preventable. Follow these key prevention steps:
* Properly fence home swimming pools.
* Learn how to swim and teach children how to swim.
* Supervise children closely and constantly when they are in or near water.
* Wear a properly fitted life jacket as these steps can all reduce the risk of drowning.
Home swimming pools need a four-sided fence at least four feet high that fully encloses the pool and separates it from the house. The fence needs a self-closing and self-latching gate. All toys that might attract a child need to be removed from the pool when no one is using it.
“Floaties,” arm bands, or water wings do not prevent children from drowning and can easily slip off, especially when kids jump into water. Water wings can produce a false sense of safety for parents and children and can inhibit a child’s ability to learn to swim. A U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket is more protective.
About 40% of drowning deaths among children ages 5-14 occur in natural water. More than half of fatal and non-fatal drownings among people 15 years and older occur in natural or open waters like lakes, rivers, or oceans. Wearing properly fitted life jackets can be beneficial for many activities in and around natural water, not just boating.
When in or around open or natural water—whether in a boat or in the water—children and adults are best protected by wearing U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets that are well-fitted to their size and fully fastened when boating. Over 80% of people who drowned while boating in 2021 were not wearing a life jacket. (CDC)