Whether at home or on vacation, it is always important to keep safety in mind when children are in or near water. Drowning can happen at any time of year, but be especially cautious during the summer months when drowning incidents can increase up to 89% as compared to the rest of the year. Even kids who know how to swim can drown so, let’s find out how to stay safe in the water.
Splashing, wading, and paddling — it must mean a great day in the water. Playing at the beach, at a water park, by a lake, or in a pool can be a real treat on a hot day.
Water is hazardous for young children. In fact, as much fun as water can be, it’s dangerous no matter where you find it – in a bucket, bowl, toilet, tub, sink, puddle, pool, or elsewhere. Parents can avoid tragedy by remembering that a baby or toddler can drown in less than an inch of water.
The best way to protect your child from accidental drowning is to remove even the smallest source of water from her play area, and if water is present, don’t take your eyes off her for a minute. If you’re at a pool or beach, it’s fine to let her splash and play to her heart’s content – as long as you’re watching and within arms’ reach.
Here are some tips to make sure your children are safe when the temperatures soar and water provides welcome cool relief.
Stay within sight and reach of your child when in, on or around the water.
Adults should stand within arm’s reach of any child under five years of age or any older child who does not swim well, when they are in water or playing near the water. An older sibling or buddy cannot be relied upon to safely watch your child. Children have drowned when an older child or sibling was watching them. When you are watching children, don’t be distracted by phone calls, text messages, reading or talking to others.
Don’t rely on older children
An older sibling or buddy cannot be relied on to safely supervise a younger child. Children have drowned when an older child or sibling was watching them.
Learn how to swim or have your child supervised by an experienced adult. Learn First Aid and CPR.
Make sure there is an experienced swimmer with your child whenever they are in or around the water. If your child happens to slip into the water, an experienced swimmer will need to quickly get the child out of the water and perform CPR, if necessary.
Young children and weak swimmers must wear lifejackets when in, on or around the water and on a boat.
Children can fall into the water quickly and silently without adults being aware. A lifejacket can help keep your child safe until someone can rescue her. Make sure the lifejacket fits your child’s weight. Buckle it up every time, and use all of the safety straps on the lifejacket. Your child could slip out of a lifejacket that is too big or not buckled up properly.
If you have a property (house or cottage) that is close to open water, fence off a play area for children that is away from the water.
Children can drown during a brief period of time when an adult is not watching them. You can help prevent child drowning by creating a barrier between your property and the open water. A fence should be at least 1.2 metres (four feet) high with a self-closing, self-latching gate.
Protect your feet.
Unfortunately, our lakes and water ways have been colonized by Zebra Mussels which are very small and have very sharp edges. Protect your feet from the shells and other sharp and jagged edges with a good pair of pool shoes with non slip soles.
Put your child in swimming lessons.
It is best to ensure that children have training but remember lessons do not provide them with special protection or extra care. Supervision is still needed, even if your child was or is in swimming lessons.
Playgrounds can be located close to natural water features, like ponds, lakes, streams or built water features, like fountains, splash pads and wading pools. Some home playground sets have water features and can provide an enjoyable addition to outdoor play, allowing children to cool off in the hot summer months.
Young children under five years of age are most at risk because:
- They can drown in as little as 2.5 centimetres (one inch) of water
- They are attracted to water, but cannot understand the risks
- They lack balance and coordination and are at increased risk of falling into bodies of water
- Parents should be sure to take the following steps, to help prevent drowning and other injuries from occurring on splash pads, wading pools or home water features.
- Actively supervise your child. Stay within sight and reach of your child. Children under five years of age are particularly vulnerable to drowning.
- Teach older children these rules for safe play:
- walk, don’t run
- take turns with equipment (like faucets, sprayers, and toys)
- Have children wear water-appropriate footwear. To prevent cuts and scrapes from foreign material like gravel, which may have collected on splash pad surfaces, children can wear non-slip shoes that are safe and comfortable for water play.
- Report any broken or damaged equipment to the operator of the splash pad or the wading pool. Broken or damaged equipment could lead to injury and should be fixed or replaced.
- All backyard pools or ponds should be fenced on all four sides to prevent drowning. The fence should be at least 1.2 metres (four feet) tall and have a self-closing, self-latching gate. It should be designed to prevent children from getting under or over it.
- Toddler pools and home playground water features should be emptied after each use. Children have drowned by slipping into unattended paddling pools.