Water Safety Awareness During the Pandemic
The lazy days of summer were lazier than usual in 2020 with families all over the world spending significant time at home. And while many clicked “cancel” on their summer vacation plans, thousands clicked “buy now” for above-ground pools in hopes of salvaging a season that no one saw coming.
These creative solutions, however, have had health authorities on high alert, warning about the potential for an increase in drownings. In fact, half of all childhood drownings happen within 25 yards of an adult, and according to The Consumer Product Safety Commission, “69% of children younger than 5 years were not expected to be at or in the pool at the time of a drowning incident.”
Pediatrician Ben Hoffman, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Council on Injury, Violence & Poison Prevention, says, “As children are at home more due to social isolation recommendations, they may have more access to pools, bathtubs, and other sources of water – all of which pose a drowning risk. Families may also be visiting lakes, rivers or other open bodies of water as a way to get outdoors while still maintaining physical distance to reduce the spread of coronavirus. We have to make sure that we plan layers of protection to keep children and teens safe around water, wherever they are.”
According to the AAP, the layers of protection should include:
- All children and adults should learn to swim. If swim lessons are suspended in your area due to coronavirus, it is important to add other layers of protection until your child can access lessons.
- Close, constant, attentive supervision around water is important. Assign an adult water watcher who should not be distracted by work, socializing or chores.
- Around the house, empty all buckets, bathtubs and wading pools immediately after use. If you have young children, keep the bathroom door closed, and use toilet locks to prevent access.
- Pools should be surrounded by a four-sided fence, with a self-closing and self-latching gate. Research shows pool fencing can reduce drowning risk by 50%. Additional barriers can include door locks, window locks, pool covers and pool alarms.
- Adults and older children should learn CPR.
- Everyone, children and adults, should wear US Coast Guard-approved life jackets whenever they are in open water, or on watercraft.
- Parents and teens should understand how using alcohol and drugs increases the risk of drowning while swimming or boating.
After an unusual start to the summer swimming season, it’s more important than ever for families to keep children enrolled in swim lessons throughout the year. Beyond the value of a lifetime of water safety, parents everywhere understand the importance of boredom busting activity, social engagement and a mood boosting routine!