Playing It Safe
Teach Your Kids the Importance of Water Safety
The heat has successfully crept into our St. Louis summer again and one thing is on the minds of children across our area-water! Backyard swimming pools, passes to the water park, boating on the lake and maybe even a family vacation to the beach are all true signals that summer is in full swing. But while you are preparing to shuttle your kids around in their wet bathing suits, take a moment to prepare for their safety in the water this summer as well.
"Water-related injuries are extremely common and, as parents, we need to take the highest precautions possible," says Mary Frichtel, RN, community education coordinator for St. Luke's Hospital. "Most of these accidents could have been prevented with a little education and extra planning."
According to the National Safe Kids Organization, drowning is still the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths to children age 14 and under. Each year approximately 1,000 children lose their lives by drowning and for every drowning, four more children are hospitalized for near drowning.
These statistics do not mean that you and your children should stay away from the water this season, but they do demand your attention on how safety-conscious your entire family should approach water fun.
Frichtel has a few tips on keeping your family safe in the water this season:
- Be Strict about Supervision
It seems the most obvious precaution, but remember that children, especially younger children, need constant supervision around water. For example, do you know which of your children's friends have swimming pools in their backyard? What are their family's safety policies? Is anyone watching them?
- Remember the Gear
Maybe your pre-teen does not think it's cool to wear a life preserver on your boating excursion, but you can never be too careful. Even if he or she is a strong swimmer, a child (and sometimes even an adult) can underestimate the strength of a current or ocean wave.
- Teach Kids at an Early Age
Enroll your children in swim classes after age four, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, so they can grow to be confident swimmers. If you do not know how to swim, take classes yourself. However, remember that being able to swim is not a substitute for adult supervision of children.
- Avoid Horseplay
Times have not changed-the old "No Running, Diving and Horseplay" signs still apply. Teach your children swimming pool safety. Remember that diving is dangerous in water less than eight feet deep and should only be done if taught how to correctly.
- Watch the Small Spaces
Even though we usually think about large bodies of water when discussing these safety issues, children can find their way into the smallest spaces of water with some potentially dangerous results. Remember to promptly drain kiddie pools when finished with play and even keep toilet seats down. Toddlers can fall into and drown in only inches of water.
- Prepare for an Emergency
In addition to taking precautions in and around water, you and your children should be prepared to handle an emergency. Adults and children over age 12 should learn the steps of CPR as well as how to use water rescue equipment. St. Luke's Hospital teaches many CPR and first-aid classes for all experience levels.
For more information or class schedule, please, call St. Luke's Community Outreach at 314-542-4848.