In the U.S. about 1,000 kids die by drowning each year – making it the second leading cause of accidental death in children 5-18 years old. That’s why kids need constant supervision around any and all sources of water – from pools and beaches to fountains and even buckets. Young children are at especially high risk – as drowning can happen in less than 2 inches of water.
Parents are strongly encouraged to learn to swim, and kids over age four should get lessons from a qualified instructor. Even the stronger swimmers are still at risk for drowning, and so continuous adult supervision is a must. For those kids who aren’t strong swimmers, make sure to get approved and properly fitting life vests or flotation devices that kids will wear any time they are around water. Inflatable vests and arm rings are NOT effective to protect against drowning. For children age 5 and below – look for a vest with head support and a strap that goes between the legs.
When kids are swimming outdoors, parents must not forget about sun safety as well. Apply (and frequently reapply) sunscreen and encourage them to wear hats and other protective clothing. Make sure kids drink lots of fluids – especially water. Insist on regular breaks from swimming so they can cool off and rehydrate. Monitor weather patterns to avoid dangerous storms, lightening or even tornadoes. When at a large public pool or beach – keep an eye out for rowdy teens or adults – and monitor your own kids play to ensure they are not being too rowdy themselves.
Stay safe and have a great summer!