We all love kicking back during a warm summer evening and spending the day at the beach or poolside with family, but do you know about the danger lurking below the water’s surface? Water poses a significant threat to our children, and it isn’t because of alligators or sharks. According to the CDC, drowning is the second leading cause of death in the United States for children aged one to 14, after motor vehicle crashes. In 2017 alone, drowning claimed the lives of nearly a thousand American children younger than 20 years old. With such considerable danger, parents and guardians must remember the importance of water safety for children.
“Everybody needs to learn how to swim and that includes parents,” said Carol Steiner, MD, FAAP of TPMG James River Pediatrics. Parents and guardians should know at least the basics of swimming and CPR. There are multiple resources for parents looking to teach their children water safety. Infant Swimming Resource (ISR), for children as old as six months or more, teaches infants how to float and roll over if they were to accidentally fall into the water. While fairly expensive, this resource is extremely valuable for parents with pools or other water hazards near their house. Locally, Riverside offers infant and toddler swim lessons from six months up to three years of age. The YMCA also offers individualized swim lessons as early as age three for members.
Beyond learning to swim, there are other precautions you can take to make sure your little ones remain safe. Instead of floaties that may fall off in the water, snap-on vests offer children more protection. Some vests even have removable layers of floatation protection that you can adjust according to your child’s strength in the water.
Remember to always wear life jackets on or near boats. For those with home pools or hot tubs, consider installing a four-sided isolation fence that completely surrounds the water with self-closing, self-locking gates. Place door alarms on all access points to the pool.
While proofing your home is important, the best way to make sure your child is safe from drowning is through vigilance. Children, infants, in particular, can drown in bathtubs, buckets, sinks, or even toilets, so it is imperative to maintain attention. Sometimes it may not even be a water source you control. A neighbor’s pool or hot tub is an equally dangerous hazard for a child. Contrary to popular myth, oftentimes juvenile drowning happens silently and as quickly as 20 to 60 seconds. Taking the time to answer a text, read a book, or talk with friends could have disastrous consequences.
Have a talk with your kids about the importance of water safety. Make sure they have a healthy respect for water and understand that drowning can happen at any age. Whether it is a fearless teenager or a curious toddler, all children should understand the risks before they dive in. In the United States, an average of 10 people drown every day. As parents, it is our responsibility to make sure our kids remain safe from the dangers of drowning. If you have questions about water safety or drowning prevention, talk with a TPMG pediatrician today.
TPMG board certified pediatrician, Carol M. Steiner, MD, FAAP has over 22 years of experience caring for patients from the first days of life to young adulthood. A premature infant herself, Dr. Steiner’s experience with a devoted pediatrician inspired her to enter the medical field. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology and earned her medical degree from Georgetown University in Washington D.C.
TPMG welcomed Dr. Carol Steiner to TPMG James River Pediatrics in 2019.