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Adults are being reminded of the best ways to make swimming activities safe for kids, in light of statistics showing that most young children who drown in pools were last seen in the house less than five minutes before the drowning occurred.
There is no substitute for your undivided attention, according to Jennifer Rubin, Safe Kids Greater Sacramento Coalition coordinator and injury prevention specialist at the University of California Davis Health.
“Pick an adult that knows how to swim to watch the kids in the pool,” Rubin recommended.
“Kids under age five should have an adult within arm’s reach in the water.”
Among preventable injuries, drowning remains the leading cause of death for children under five.
More than one in five fatal drowning victims are children aged 14 and younger. For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for near drownings.
Older teens, particularly males between the ages of 15 and 19, are also at high risk of drowning. Often, these accidents are a result of high-risk behavior, drugs, or alcohol.
UC Davis Health shared the following ways to save young children from experiencing this tragedy:
Ten Prevention Tips
1. Keep a close eye on young children in not only the pool but also in the house as well. Children under age one are more likely to drown in bathtubs or buckets.
2. Air-filled or foam toys, such as water wings, noodles, or inner tubes, should not be used in place of life jackets (personal flotation devices). These toys are not designed to keep swimmers safe.
3. Children should always wear a life jacket when around natural bodies of water including the river, lakes, or oceans. Parents and other adults should set a good example by always wearing theirs.
“Even the strongest swimmers need a life jacket in the river,” Rubin said.
4. Be aware of situations that are unique to open water, such as limited visibility, depth, uneven surfaces, currents, and undertow.
5. Know how to swim out of a rip current, which remains the most deadly hazard on beaches. They are powerful, channeled currents of water flowing away from shore that quickly pull swimmers out to sea, and account for over 80 percent of rescues performed by beach lifeguards.
6. Talk with teens about the dangers of diving into the river from rocks or bridges. Explain why alcohol and drugs make it even more likely for a fatal drowning to occur.
Further tips for kids at home if you have a pool:
7. Keep the pool area completely enclosed with a fence at least five feet high. An iron fence with vertical bars three inches apart and horizontal bars no closer than 45 inches together is recommended.
8. Pool covers and pool alarms can be helpful but do not serve as a substitute for a good fence. Children can become trapped under soft pool covers and can easily drown.
9. All gates around the pool should be self-closing and self-latching. The latch should be near the top of the fence.
10. Finally, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended learning infant, child, and adult CPR.