Last week I touched on pool safety. Now I want to speak about swimming and drowning prevention. On average 2 children drown each day and 10 more are treated in the emergency room for submersion injuries of varying severity( 80% boys). So we are talking about a serious problem. If there is one thing that I feel I can speak about as an “expert” it is this(so many years of my youth as a lifeguard). So keep these points in mind:
1) First and foremost, never leave a young child unattended by any standing body of water even for a second. This includes toilets and large 5 gallon buckets–a toddler can fall in head over heels and be unable to pull herself out.
2) All adults should learn CPR.
3) Get your child swimming lessons.
a) There is some modest disagreement as to what age is ideal to start. There are credible programs that begin as young as 6 months. I think these classes are useful but they do not change numbers 1 and 2 above.
b) For hygiene sake all noncontinent young children should wear tight fitting plastic pants when in the water.
c) By age 3 most chlildren can begin to get the basics of real swimming skills. Your child is not water safe until he can swim the length of a pool on the surface with an arm over arm elbow high stroke. The more splash the weaker the swimmer. Swimming under water does not qualify (easier to move under water without splash. That’s why those great swimmers in the Olympics stay under water after dives and turns-they go faster and it’s easier). And remember : you are not “swimming” with swimmies , tubes or vests–you are floating.
4) No infant bathtub seats-they can easily tip over.
5) Everyone should wear a personal floatation device when riding in a pleasure craft sized boat regardless of swimming ability. There are PFD’s for infants and young toddlers but personally I am not too much of a fan of their reliability. I advise my patients to leave the littlest kids (<3 years) on the dock with Grandma for their boating excursions. Should some serious accident occur and everyone ends up in the drink, those kids can not participate in their own rescue at all. They won’t have any fun on the boat anyway.
As I said last time–it’s a summer so enjoy, safely. Please forward questions and comments. Thanks for following.