Young children are especially at risk — they can drown in less than 2 inches (6 centimeters) of water. That means drowning can happen where you’d least expect it — the sink, the toilet bowl, fountains, buckets, inflatable pools, the bucket you use when you wash the car, empty containers of water when you’re done using them, or small bodies of standing water around your home, such as ditches filled with rainwater. Always watch children closely when they’re in or near any water. Children are drawn to places and things like these and need constant supervision to be sure they don’t fall in. The following tips on water safety for children are summarized in 10 golden rules.
Rule #1: Never take your eyes off your child when she’s in or around the water.
Sadly, young children can drown silently in as little as 25 seconds, even in the shallow end or in a baby pool. Kids who are not yet experienced swimmers need constant touch supervision when they’re playing in or near a pool or at the beach. Kids of all ages can get stuck underwater, grow tired, or become panicked. And don’t assume you’ll hear your child yelling or splashing if he needs help—that’s something you see in the movies. In real life, most kids and adults drown quietly and quickly.
Rule #2: Ignore your phone.
Make a pact with yourself: When you’re at the pool or the beach or the lake, silence your phone and stow it out of reach in your bag so you’re not tempted to use it. If you hear a text message come in and turn to your phone for five seconds, that’s long enough for a child to be submerged. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should leave your phone at home; it’s best to keep it fully charged and within reach in case of emergency
Rule #3: Don’t rely on water wings, inflatable toys, floating loungers, or pool noodles.
Parents put too much faith in flotation devices that were never made to be life preservers. If your little one is a non-swimmer, it’s okay to let him/her use floating toys, but only if you’re right there next to her in the water. Remember to keep all floating toys out of the pool when they’re not in use; otherwise they may entice a toddler into the water.
Rule #4: Sign up your child for swimming lessons.
What’s the right age to get started? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all children ages 4 and older take swimming lessons. But don’t let lessons give you a false sense of security: Regardless of ability, all toddlers and preschoolers need a caregiver at their side in the pool.
Rule #5: Make older kids buddy up.
As an extra layer of protection, experts recommend that kids follow the buddy system. Pair your child with a friend or a sibling, and explain that each kid is responsible for knowing where her buddy is at all times. But don’t forget that a pal doesn’t replace adult supervision; the system serves as a supplement.
Rule #6: When there’s a crowd, put a parent on lifeguard duty.
Or better yet, hire help. At a party or a gathering, it’s almost guaranteed that parents will get distracted and look away from the pool at some point. A simple backup to make sure that everyone’s safe: In addition to keeping track of your own kids, pay a pro or designate an adult “water watcher” and take turns every 15 minutes. That person’s only job is to sit on the edge keeping an eye on all of the children
Rule #7: Teach your child the rules.
For easy memorizing, stick to these five: no running, no diving in the shallow end, no pushing people in, no pulling other kids under the water, and no swimming without adult supervision—ever. And remember: Children aren’t the only ones who shouldn’t swim alone; it’s not particularly safe for adults to swim solo either.
Rule #8: Learn CPR.
If the worst happens and you have to rescue a distressed swimmer, conducting CPR while you wait for an ambulance to arrive could save that person’s life. When the heart stops, continuing to circulate blood to the brain helps prevent a bad outcome. If you’re untrained or rusty on CPR, do chest compressions (100 per minute), and skip rescue breathing, also known as mouth-to-mouth. When it comes to drowning, doing something is always better than doing nothing.
Rule #9: Secure your swimming pool area
Home swimming pools, (including large, inflatable above-ground pools), should be completely surrounded with at least a 4-foot (1.2 meters) high fence that completely separates the pool from the house. The fence should have a self-closing and self-latching gate that opens away from the pool, If your pool has a cover, remove it completely before swimming. Also, never allow your child to walk on the pool cover; water may have accumulated on it, making it as dangerous as the pool itself. Your child also could fall through and become trapped underneath. Do not use a pool cover in place of a four-sided fence, because it is not likely to be used appropriately and consistently.
Rule #10: No Alcohol
Adults should not drink alcohol when they are swimming. It presents a danger for them as well as for any children they might be supervising.
Parents, Caregivers and Guardians should observe the following general rule; never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.