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Water Safety for Children and Families

Summer is fast approaching!  The sun is out, heat and humidity rising, and we look to have some fun and cool off at the pool or swimming hole. It is time to also think about how to maintain water safety for our children while cooling off and having fun this summer. 

Roughly 10 drowning deaths take place in the United States every day. About 20% of these deaths occur in kids ages 14 and younger. Eight kids receive emergency care for nonfatal water submersion emergencies for every one child who drowns. These nonfatal injuries can result in brain damage, long-term memory issues, and learning disabilities. Teaching kids water safety and continuously discussing water safety methods can help prevent drowning and other water-related accidents. 

Why is water safety important? 

Drowning is typically silent and may not be highly visible. A struggling swimmer often cannot yell because their respiratory system is trying to breathe and their arms may not be seen as they are underwater, attempting to get their body to the surface. It can be difficult for parents and other adults to recognize a drowning child. That is why a child’s understanding of water safety is so important.  

What are some helpful safety rules? 

  • Use life jackets when in, on, or near natural bodies of water (i.e., lakes or rivers). 
  • Swim with a buddy. 
  • Start swim lessons as soon as your child is ready. 
  • Always have a “Water Watcher!” — Swim in safe or designated areas only and supervised by a lifeguard. Provide close, constant supervision in and around water. Keep your eyes off your phone (though keep it near) and on the children in the water at all times. 
  • Beware of drop-offs into deep water. Watch for hidden debris, rapid currents, and slippery rocks. Look before you leap or dive! 
  • Obey all hazard signs. 
  • Know CPR. 
  • If you have a pool at home, be sure to fence around it.  
  • Prevent access to water when not in use or adults are not nearby supervising.   

Taking a few precautions and following some basic safety rules can provide for a fun, safe day at the pool, lake, river, or beach!  

By Eric Lingren, PT, MPT. Fountain City, TN