Tips to Prevent Drownings



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Tips to Prevent Drownings

Drownings rank behind only motor-vehicle accidents as the leading cause of death among youngsters in middle childhood. Most often, these tragedies occur when children swim without adequate adult supervision. In most cases, these children (and their parents) have overestimated their swimming ability and their knowledge of water-survival skills.

Here are some guidelines to keep your middle-years child safe in and near the water:

  • Make sure your youngster (older than age 4) learns how to swim from an experienced and qualified instructor.

  • Never allow your child to swim alone or play by or in water away from the watchful eye of an adult. Ideally, this adult should be trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Also, teach your child to use the buddy system even when swimming with large groups of friends.

  • Do not allow your child to engage in horseplay that might result in injury.

  • Prohibit your child from diving unless someone has already determined the depth of the water and checked for underwater hazards.

  • Do not permit your child to rely on an air mattress, inner tube or inflatable toy as a life preserver. If these devices deflate, or your child slips off them, he could be in serious trouble.

  • When your youngster is old enough - usually by his high school years - he should learn life-saving skills such as CPR, taught in most cities through community agencies or the American Red Cross.

For younger children, water can be especially hazardous. To ensure your child's safety, keep the rules above in mind and also remember that even in a shallow toddler's pool, an adult, preferably one who knows CPR, should watch all children. The APA does not recommend them for children younger than age 4 for two reasons:

  1. You may be lulled into being less cautious because you think your child can swim.

  2. Young children who are repeatedly immersed in water may swallow so much of it that they develop water intoxication. This can result in convulsions, shock and even death.

If you do enroll a child younger than 4 years old in a swimming program, use it as an opportunity to enjoy playing in the water together. Follow YMCA guidelines that forbid submersion of young children and encourage parents to participate in all activities. And remember that even a child who knows how to swim needs to be watched constantly.

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