Splashing into Summer: Be Safe May 31, 2012

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What's the most important accessory for kids at the pool this summer? A responsible caregiver, of course!

Summer vacation in Texas often means family fun. More often than not, that includes time outside in the water -- swimming, splashing, wading, boating, fishing, tubing or visiting a water park.

Safe Kids and Dell Children's Medical Center of Austin remind parents that it is especially important to stay alert and watch out for your kids when they are near water.

Around water, keep your eyes glued on your kids!

Here's why*:

  • Summer months (May through August) are the most deadly. Child drownings increase 89 percent in the summer months throughout the rest of the year.
  • More than half of these accidents occur in the child's backyard pool; one-third happen at the home of a friend or relative.
  • 86 percent of children who fall into water are wearing all of their clothes.
  • A child can drown in less than two inches of water.
  • Drowning is often a silent killer. Rather than flailing and attracting attention, children can just slip under the surface and drown quietly.
  • A child submerged in water for two minutes will lose consciousness.
  • Brain damage occurs after four to six minutes.
  • Most children who are found after 10 minutes underwater die.

'Safe Kids' Tips for Summer Swim Safety

At the Pool:

  • Pools should be enclosed by safety fences that are 4-6 feet high and equipment with self-closing, self-latching gates. Vertical bars should be not more than four inches apart. The risk of drowning doubles when barriers are reduced to three sides.
  • Colorful, inviting toys can be attractive to children. Remove all toys from the pool when it is not in use.
  • Install high locks and alarms on all doors and windows that lead to the pool, including utility and pet doors.
  • Lessons? Give your child a head start on enjoying the water with swimming lessons. Teach children how to handle themselves in the water before sending them to play in it. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children ages 4 or older can begin.
  • Flotation devices such as armbands, flotation rings and inflatable toys can give parents a false sense of security. These items can shift suddenly, deflate or slip from underneath, leaving the child in a very dangerous situation.
  • Always empty blow-up pools after each use and put them away.
  • Keep a telephone nearby for emergency use.
  • To protect your children, always supervise your child closely in or near a swimming pool or body of water. Never leave a child alone, even for a second. If you must leave, such as to answer the phone, take the children with you!

In the Boat:

  • When children are boating, fishing or playing near deep or fast moving water, they always should always wear a lifejacket. An estimated 85 percent of all boating-related drowning could have been prevented if the victim had been wearing a lifejacket.
  • Recreational boats should have one appropriately sized Personal Flotation Device (lifejacket) for each person on board.
  • Take a refresher course in boating and water safety. Stay updated on current rules and regulations. Obey non-wake and speed zones.

At the Beach:

  • Check surf conditions. Avoid any dangerous conditions.
  • Stay in a lifeguard-supervised area.
  • Teach your child what to do if caught in a riptide current. Instruct them not to panic and swim parallel to the shore until the current releases them. This will reduce the chances of becoming exhausted from fighting the current.

*Source: Safe Kids USA

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