Drownings double from this time a year ago at Cook Children's
5 tips to prevent your child from drowning
In the month of June 2015, Cook Children's Trauma department saw 26 non-fatal drownings, more than twice as many during the same time span as last year. Everyone lived, there were no fatal drownings during this month, but then July began with two fatal drownings.
Of those drownings, 26 were backyard or community pools.
If you believe swim lessons are nothing more than a fun summer activity, think again. The skills children learn in swim classes could make the difference in life and death.
During swim lessons, kids get used to the water and learn important water safety skills. According to Safe Kids Tarrant County, led by Cook Children's, children who don't know how to swim or who are being supervised by adults who can't swim are eight times more likely to drown or fatally drown.
"Children as young as 2 to 3 years old develop the ability to self-rescue during swim lessons, which means that if they fall into a swimming pool, they can turn around in the water and either float on their back until rescued or use the skills they have learned to swim to the side of the pool," said Tyler Emler, action team chair for drowning prevention for Safe Kids. "The sooner children get in the water, the sooner they become comfortable with swimming. If you wait until children are 6-8 years old to begin swim lessons, they won't have the same comfort level as children who have been in the water since they were younger."
Which swim class is best?
When choosing swim lessons for your child, visit local health clubs and recreational centers to meet with swim instructors and educate yourself on the classes offered.
According to Emler, the most successful classes teach a love for water while also building necessary swimming and water safety skills.
While swim classes should have accommodations in place to assist children who don't acclimate to the water or who aren't reaching swim class goals, Emler notes that parents can help their child's progress by spending family time in the pool and stopping any pressure a child may feel to master skills more quickly.
Young children who take swim classes in late spring or early summer should return for indoor winter refresher courses every year until they reach 6 or 7 years old. This way, coordination and muscle memory has a chance to develop, allowing children to maintain skills for longer periods of time.
Use multiple layers of protection around your backyard pool or hot tub to provide your family with the safest swimming experience possible.
According to Dana Walraven, Cook Children's Community Health Outreach manager and Safe Kids Tarrant County coordinator, you can help prevent drownings with these 5 important steps:
- Take swim and safety lessons. The parents and the child should take swim lessons.
- Learn CPR.
- Provide 100 percent supervision without distractions.
- Use pool and child alarms to alert you if your child gets in the water without you.
- Isolate your pool from the rest of your backyard with a permanent, four-sided fence with self-latching gates to prevent kids from accessing the pool area without an adult.
"In many drowning situations, an adult was just a few feet away from the pool and didn't realize anything was wrong because he or she didn't hear any sounds of distress, such as splashing or yelling," Walraven said. "Drowning is a silent event that can occur in the time it takes to send a text message. Should supervision fail for any reason, having multiple safety layers in place helps protect your child."
For more information
Learn more about drowning prevention and water safety here. This page gives helpful information on keeping your kids safe during swim season, including proper fit for life jackets, pool safety videos and fences/alarms information.