Whether or not your child is destined to be the next Michael Phelps, learning to swim is an important part of summer safety. Consider these sobering statistics:
- I in 5 people who drown are children under the age of 14. For every 1 child who drowns, 4 more are treated for submersion injuries and many result in permanent brain injuries
- Fatal drowning is the 2nd highest non-intentional, injury-related death amongst children 1 to 14 years of age.
- Males, children ages 1-4 and minorities have the highest risk of drowning.
- The drowning rate of black children 5 to 14 is 3.1 times that of white children
As you can see, young, black children have amongst the highest drowning rates. Black children also, along with other minority groups, on average don't know how to swim.
So what can we do to keep our children from being statistics?
- Supervise your children around bodies of water, whether around pools or around natural bodies of water. Think touch supervision for toddlers and preschoolers. The adult supervising children in these age groups should be within touch distance. And adults supervising should not be engaged in activities that could be distracting.
- Sign your children up for swim lessons. My 8-year-old will take swim lessons this summer and I'm currently researching swim lessons for toddlers for my soon-to-be two-year-old. A child who can swim properly has a better chance at survival in an emergency situation and can enjoy being in the water more.
- Install proper barriers if you have an at-home pool. The pool at our house is gated off from the rest of the deck and the only access to the deck is through a child-proof lock. I also plan to purchase an alarm as a last line of defense.
- Do not use air-filled or foam toys (noodles, beach balls, water wings) in place of personal safety devices
- Learn CPR. In the event you find yourself in a situation where CPR is necessary, you won't need to wait for paramedics to arrive to help your child.
Learn more here: CDC Unintentional Drowning Factsheet