MILWAUKEE (8/5/2011) - It's a warm summer day and you're at the pool with your kids. Your cell phone rings and you answer it – shifting your focus from your kids to the phone conversation. Good idea? Not at all, according to Safe Kids Southeast Wisconsin Coalition. It could even be deadly. Children can get into trouble in a matter of seconds around water. Safe Kids Southeast Wisconsin recommends parents actively supervise. This means they keep their eyes on their kids at all times.
Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional death for children ages 14 and younger. Approximately 750 children die each year due to unintentional drowning incidents, and each year, children who nearly drown sustain an estimated 5,000 injuries.
"Kids drown quickly and quietly," said Lisa Klindt Simpson, coordinator of Safe Kids Southeast Wisconsin. "A drowning child cannot cry or shout for help. It is important to remember simple steps save lives."
Safe Kids recommends these precautions to help keep kids safe around water:
* Always actively supervise your child around water. Stay where you can see, hear and reach your child. Avoid distractions, including reading, texting or talking on the phone.
* If you, family members or friends have a pool or spa your child visits, it should be surrounded on all sides by a fence at least four feet high. It should have self-enclosing and self-latching gates that lock. Studies estimate this enclosed fencing could prevent up to 90 percent of child drowning incidents in residential pools.
* Teach children the dangers of swimming around drains. Children should not swim around any drains or suction outlets.
* Make sure all pools and spas have compliant anti-entrapment drain covers and backup devices.
* Know how to swim, and enroll your kids in swimming lessons. Swimming lessons will not make your child immune to drowning, but it is important for both adults and children to learn to swim.
* Don't leave toys in or near the pool because they could attract unsupervised kids. For extra protection, consider an alarm for the pool and for the doors, windows and gates leading to the pool.
* Don't rely on inflatable swimming toys such as water wings and noodles. These toys never should be used instead of U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets. If your child can't swim, stay within an arm's reach.
* Learn infant and child CPR. In less than two hours, you can learn effective interventions that can give a fighting chance to a child whose breathing and heartbeat have stopped.
* Learn how to use rescue equipment. Keep rescue equipment, a phone and emergency numbers nearby in case there is an emergency.
Even a near-drowning incident can have lifelong consequences, including brain damage. Damage usually is irreversible after four to six minutes under water. Although 90 percent of parents say they supervise their children while swimming, many acknowledge that they engage in other distracting activities at the same time. These include talking, eating, reading, texting or taking care of another child.
"A supervised child is in sight at all times with your undivided attention focused on the child," said Simpson. When there are children in or near the water, adults should take turns serving as the designated "water watcher" who pays undivided attention.
For more on drowning and water safety, call Safe Kids Southeast Wisconsin at (414) 765-9355 or visit www.safekidswi.org .
A member of Safe Kids Worldwide, Safe Kids Southeast Wisconsin works to prevent accidental injuries, the leading cause of death among children age 14 and younger. The four-county (Milwaukee, Ozaukee,
Washington, Waukesha) coalition combines the expertise of community agencies and individuals to prevent childhood injuries through collaboration, education, policy and advocacy initiatives.
Children's Health Education Center, a member of Children's Hospital and Health System, is its lead agency. For more information, call (866) 228-5670.
Children's Health Education Center and BlueKids.org e-learning programs offer resources and programs for children, teachers, parents and caregivers to help keep kids healthy and safe. These health education programs are delivered online, at our center or in the classroom. For more information, visit BlueKids.org.