Summer is upon us as pools opened this weekend and boating season has begun. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), has issued new guidelines for water safety and drowning prevention.
According to the AAP, drowning rates have fallen steadily from 2.68 per 100,000 in 1985 to 1.32 per 100,000 in 2006. But drowning continues to be the second leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 19, claiming the lives of roughly 1,100 children in 2006. Toddlers and teenaged boys are at greatest risk.
Despite these improved statistics in water safety, there is always room to improve, so the AAP has issued the following guidelines:
- Never – even for a moment – leave small children alone or in the care of another young child while in bathtubs, pools, spas or wading pools, or near irrigation ditches or standing water. Bath seats cannot substitute for adult supervision. Empty water from buckets and other containers immediately after use. To prevent drowning in toilets, young children should not be left alone in the bathroom.
- Closely supervise children in and around water. With infants, toddlers and weak swimmers, an adult should be within an arm’s length. With older children and better swimmers, an adult should be focused on the child and not distracted by other activities.
- If children are in out-of-home child care, ask about exposure to water and the ratio of adults to children.
- If you have a pool, install a four-sided fence that is at least 4 feet high to limit access to the pool. The fence should be hard to climb (not chain-link) and have a self-latching, self-closing gate. Families may consider pool alarms and rigid pool covers as additional layers of protection, but neither can take the place of a fence.
- Children need to learn to swim. AAP supports swimming lessons for most children 4 years and older. Classes may reduce the risk of drowning in younger children as well, but because children develop at different rates, not all children will be ready to swim at the same age.
- Parents, caregivers and pool owners should learn CPR.
- Do not use air-filled swimming aids (such as inflatable arm bands) in place of life jackets. They can deflate and are not designed to keep swimmers safe.
- All children should wear a life jacket when riding in a boat. Small children and nonswimmers should also wear one at water’s edge, such as on a river bank or pier.
- Parents should know the depth of the water and any underwater hazards before allowing children to jump in. The first time you enter the water, jump feet first; don’t dive.
- When choosing an open body of water for children to swim in, select a site with lifeguards. Swimmers should know what to do in case of rip currents (swim parallel to the shore until out of the current, then swim back to the shore).
- Counsel teenagers about the increased risk of drowning when alcohol is involved.
If you or someone you know has been involved in a pool accident or Chicago car accident , then call Chicago accident attorney Aaron Bryant for a free consultation at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website www.BLGCHICAGO.com