As Oklahoma thermometers creep up into the red, many of us are dragging out the sprinklers or cooling off in the nearest swimming pool or lake. Most kids love splashing in the water. Memories made at the lake or pool can be some childhood favorites.
As many parents know, a day of water fun also comes with necessary swim safety precautions. According to KidsHealth.org, nearly 1,000 children in the U.S. drown each year and most happen in home swimming pools. Children 4 years old or younger account for the majority of child drowning deaths.
According to SafeKids.org, parents have misconceptions about drowning that actually increase their children’s risk. So what are some of these misconceptions and what facts can help keep our kids safe this summer?
Misconception 1: If a child was drowning nearby, I would hear it.
Reality: Drowning is silent. There is often very little splashing, waving or screaming.
Misconception 2: I can take my eyes off my child just for a quick minute.
Reality: Drowning is quick. Once a child begins to struggle, you may have less than a minute to react. In 2 minutes (the time it takes to answer the phone), your child can lose consciousness. In just 4-6 minutes (the time it takes to sign for a package at the door), your child can suffer irreversible brain damage.
Misconception 3: Most parents think that when present, a lifeguard is the primary person responsible for their child’s supervision at the pool.
Reality: You can’t rely entirely on a lifeguard while swimming at a pool. Watching your child in the water is your responsibility.
Misconception 4: 60 percent of parents surveyed do not worry as much about drowning if their child has had swim lessons.
Reality: Swim lessons are essential, but skill levels vary. A review of children who drowned in a pool revealed that 47 percent of 10-17 year olds reportedly knew how to swim.
So, how can you stay cool and stay safe during the dog days of summer? Parents can reduce the risk of child drowning by following these important safety tips:
- Watch kids without distraction when they are in or around water. Conversations with friends and quick runs inside the house can leave children vulnerable.
- Keep young children within arms’ reach of an adult. Make sure older children swim with a partner every time.
- Teach children how to swim. Every child is different, so enroll children in swim lessons when they are ready. Consider their age, development and how often they are around water. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends swim lessons for all children 4 years or older.
- Make sure kids develop these five water survival skills:
- Step or jump into water over their head and return to the surface.
- Float or tread water for one minute.
- Turn around in a full circle and find an exit.
- Swim 25 yards to exit the water.
- Exit the water. If in a pool, be able to exit without using the ladder.
- For home pools, install fences at least four feet tall with self-closing and latching gates around the entire perimeter.
- Empty kids’ pools after each use. Store them upside down so they don’t collect water.
- Know what to do in an emergency. Learning CPR and basic water rescue skills may help you save a child’s life.
Locally, the Richard Kane YMCA offers swim lessons for adults and children at various levels. Two week long group sessions are $35 for YMCA members and $45 for non-members with sessions throughout June and July. Private swim lessons are also available year-round. For more information, contact the Richard Kane YMCA at 918-336-0713 or visit RKYMCA.org.
Another local resource for eligible employees is the Phillips66 Aquatics Center, where they offer adult swim lessons and swim lessons for children 6 months or older.
To learn more about CPR courses available in the Bartlesville area, contact the American Red Cross at 918-336-2216 or the Richard Kane YMCA.
This summer we hope you and your children stay cool, stay safe and make lots of fantastic memories!