Whether you are taking a swim in a backyard pool, running through the lawn sprinklers or heading out to the local pool, remember to play it safe around water. Drowning is one of the leading causes of death for children one to four years of age, second only to motor vehicle crashes. Children can drown in less than four centimetres (1.25 inches) of water – enough to cover the mouth and nose. The reality is that supervision of a swimming child is a full-time job. It is not to be combined with reading, gossiping with friends, chatting on the phone, tending the barbecue or looking after other children who are not swimming.
Supervision must be constant and vigilant. For very young children, who are in or near water, the “within arm’s reach” rule should apply. If they are further away than that, they are too far. Children don’t even need to be swimming to be at risk. Most infant drowning deaths occur in bathtubs, when the parent briefly walks out of the room. Toddlers can drown in buckets, even toilet bowls.
At the beginning of the summer season, educate yourself, establish a plan of action for emergencies and ensure that every adult knows who is responsible for the children. Get trained. Enrol in a First Aid and CPR course that will allow you to help your child or a child in care until emergency services arrive. Create barriers. Safe Kids Canada recommends that pools have four-sided fencing that is at least 1.2 metres high as well as having self-closing and self-latching gates. Use life jackets. Always have a weak swimmer or non-swimmer wear a life jacket when in or near the water. Air filled swimming aids such as water wings or inner tubes do not prevent your child from drowning.
REMEMBER: Stay within reach of your child at all times, regardless of his or her level of swimming ability. Get active and be in the water with your child!