National Drowning Prevention Month

Source: – By: U.S. Swim School’s Executive Director Sue Mackie, Tammy McKillip

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A day at the beach, boating on the lake, splashing around in the backyard pool — these are all situations that could be potentially dangerous for young or even older children. Since many children only take swim lessons during summer, their water safety skills could be rusty, increasing the chances for a drowning incident when pool and beach season arrive again.

On average, over 3,500 people die each year from drowning, and many more are injured. The Month of May has been declared National Drowning Prevention Month to try to raise awareness among parents so they can prepare their children for safe water fun throughout the summer.


Water Safety Tips

  • Teach children how to swim and how to be safe around water as early as possible.
  • Always supervise children when near the water. If necessary, install alarms on doors and windows that lead to a pool area. Instruct babysitters on water safety.
  • Make sure one person is the designated “watcher” when children are swimming or near water. Have a system in place for switching off “watchers” so there is no confusion when someone takes a break.
  • Keep a telephone near the pool, and make sure emergency numbers are pre-programmed and easy to access.
  • Keep a first aid kit near the pool, and bring one along if you are headed to the beach or lake. Clean and cover cuts quickly to avoid infection, and keep the swimmer out of the water if they are actively bleeding.
  • Install five-foot high isolation fencing around your backyard pool, and make sure the gates are self-latching to prevent accidental unsupervised access. Remove chairs or other furniture that could be used to climb over the fence.
  • Keep toys and other kid-enticing objects away from the pool area
  • No matter how many swimming lessons your child has had, and no matter how many flotation devices are in the water, don’t assume they are safe without your supervision. Always monitor children carefully when near the water.
  • Tell your child to stay away from pool drains and pipes to avoid potential entrapment.
  • Take a CPR and/or water rescue course to empower yourself should your or another child need to be rescued.
  • Always check the pool, spa, lake, or ocean FIRST if your child is missing! Every moment counts when preventing drowning.
  • Install a safety cover over your hot tub or spa.
  • Make sure your drain covers are safety compliant.
  • Never dive headfirst while at the ocean or lake. Always check the water depth before diving.
  • Have your young child wear only U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets near the ocean. Any other type of flotation device could cause your child to drown, should he be carried out to sea by the undertow or waves.
  • Instruct your child to be on the lookout for marine life while at a lake or ocean. Avoid areas of dense vegetation, and tell your child never to touch or otherwise disturb living things in the water. It isn’t polite, and she may get stung or bitten.
  • Instruct your child not to panic if he should get caught up in a rip current while swimming in the ocean. Instead, he should swim parallel to the shore until he is beyond the rip current, then he should swim to shore.
  • Tell your child to wave and make noise if she feels she is in danger of drowning.
  • Stay at least 100 feet away from rocks, jetties, and piers, where dangerous rip currents are common.
  • Notify a lifeguard if you see someone that appears to be having trouble in the water. If no lifeguard is nearby, call 9-1-1, then throw something that floats into the water. Instruct the swimmer to stay calm and grab hold of the floating object until help arrives.
  • Always honor lifeguard’s orders and warning flags when at the beach or lake. A red flag indicates dangerous swimming conditions. A yellow flag means the danger is moderate. A green flag means the water conditions have been deemed safe for everyone.

Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning!

When a person is struggling to stay afloat in the water, she may not be able to scream or wave for help. Take a look at the following video by Mario Vittone to see what drowning looks like, then remain alert to your family when they are in the water. It takes seconds for a person to drown. Knowing what to look for could mean the difference between life and death.


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