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Keep Children Safe Around Water This Summer

Even before summer officially arrived, Kentucky and other parts of the nation were suffering through some pretty hot temperatures and high humidity.  It makes you wonder what we will be dealing with as we get into the months of July and August, which traditionally are our hottest months of the year.

Perhaps you and your family will find relief from the heat by jumping into the pool or taking a trip to the beach this summer.  It’s important to practice safety around water, especially when you have younger children who need to be taught water safety lessons.

Unfortunately, drownings and nonfatal drowning injuries among children under the age of 15 are high.  In fact, drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children between the ages of 1 and 4 and the second leading cause for all children under 17.  It is projected that 10 people drown every day, with an average of 3,500 to 4,000 people in the United States drowning each year.  The sad fact is that 87 percent of drownings occur in home pools or hot tubs for children under the age of 5, and children age 5 to 17 are more likely to drown in ponds or lakes.

The good news is that these drownings can be prevented.  It’s recommended that everyone should know the basics of swimming, such as floating and moving through water.  In fact, the risk of drowning can be reduced by 88 percent for children ages 1 to 4 who take formal swim lessons.  It’s also important to know how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation on children and adults.

Another prevention strategy, for those who own pools, is to install layers of barriers to prevent a child from accessing the water.  You should use a four-sided isolation fence around backyard swimming pools.  The fence should have self-closing and self-latching gates.  If the pool isn’t separate from the home, make sure to use door alarms that can alert you when a door to the outside is being opened.

It’s important for parents to teach their children to swim while also continuing to supervise them when they are in the pool without you.  Stress to your child that he should never swim alone.

Even adults can benefit from being reminded of water safety tips.  For example, it’s never safe to swim after drinking alcohol, eating heavily or while taking drugs or medications.  It’s also best to avoid swimming when you are overheated, tired or chilled.

If you enjoy taking your family to the lake, make sure the children wear life jackets in or around the water even if they know how to swim.  Never dive into unfamiliar water, because you don’t know what lies beneath the surface.

A dip in a pool can be an easy way to find relief from the summer heat.  Just remember that safe practices should always be top of mind.