Water safety - identifying high-risk situations
It only takes 1 inch of water to drown a toddler. Knowing where your children are, even older children, at all times, can help prevent them from drowning. According to the National Safe Kids Campaign, the majority of children who drown in swimming pools were last seen in the home, were missing from sight for less than five minutes, and were in the care of one or both parents at the time of the drowning.In and around the home
More than half of all infant drownings (under age 1) occur in bathtubs. Supportive baby bathtub "rings" do not prevent drownings if the child is unsupervised. Water hazards in and around the home may include the following:
- Buckets (especially 5-gallon size).
- Diaper pails.
- Ice chests with melted ice.
- Hot tubs, spas, and whirlpools.
- Ditches and post holes.
- Ponds and fountains.
Small children can drown when they lean forward to look into a bucket or open the toilet. Because the head is the heaviest part of a small child, it is easy for him/her to fall over into a container. Containers filled with liquid often weigh more than the small child and will not tip over when the child falls in.Swimming pools
More than half of childhood drownings occur in swimming pools, either at the child's home or at a friend's, neighbor's, or relative's house. Pools are especially hazardous if:
- Children swim unsupervised.
- The pool is not properly fenced in.
- There is no telephone with emergency numbers nearby.
- There is no rescue equipment near the pool.
- Parents rely on personal flotation devices (PFDs) to keep their child safe.
When boating, sailing, and canoeing, children of all ages should wear US Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices (PFDs) such as life jackets. In fact, many states require the use of PFDs on all boats at all times. According to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, it is estimated that 85 percent of boating-related drownings can be prevented if people wear PFDs. PFDs should be US Coast Guard-approved. Blow-up swimming devices such as "water wings," rafts, toys, and other items are not considered safe and should not be relied on to prevent drowning.
Drowning in the winter
Children can drown during the winter by falling through thin ice. In addition, pools with winter covers that do not completely cover the pools pose a threat, because children can slip between the cover into the pool.
A warning about swimming lessons
In April 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a statement that swimming lessons do not protect children under age 4 from drowning. Although swimming lessons for toddlers are a good way of introducing them to the water, they are not developmentally ready until the age of 4 to learn how to swim properly and safely. In addition, swimming lessons do not ensure that your child will be safe in the water, even over the age of 4. Children who know how to swim can still drown just a few feet from safety because of confusion or fear.
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