Drowning is still a major cause of death for children in the United States, this after years of campaigns designed to teach water safety. 2014 was not markedly better than 2013, or worse, which seems to indicate a problem that stubbornly refuses to go away. But there is more we can do to make 2014 a better year for water safety and our efforts to further improve water safety begin with raising awareness.
Did You Know It’s National Water Safety Month?
May is National Water Safety Month and now, with the swim-crazy summer months approaching, is the best time to really focus on water safety awareness. The statistics are sobering: an average of 390 children drown each year in the United States, and drowning is the second leading cause of death in children 1-14 years old. Those numbers should tell us we have a problem and it starts early. Although all babies are different, there is nothing preventing the average baby learning to swim as young as 6-months-old. This is the perfect age to teach water survival skills that can come in handy into adulthood, including the basic roll-back-to-float maneuver. If your baby can swim, he or she is very much safer being in and around the water.
Raising Awareness Is Key to Making Positive Changes
Working together as parents, caregivers and instructors, there’s no reason we can’t improve child water safety awareness and begin to turn the tide against drowning deaths. One important fact to remember: there is no way to completely remove the danger of drowning. There will always be tragic accidents. But with more awareness and a renewed dedication to measures that significantly reduce risk – including baby swim classes – we can really begin to move the needle and make headway against a problem that otherwise may never go away. To learn more about water safety for children and the benefits of early swim lessons, visit the National Drowning Prevention Association website.
New parents have a lot on their plates, including responsibilities they are just learning and of course some good ol’ fashioned sleep deprivation. In those first few wonderful, frantic months of parenthood it’s easy for some basics – like baby water safety – to slip through the cracks. Here are five water safety tips that new parents should keep in mind in a variety of circumstances, from bath time to baby swim classes.
- Never leave your baby unattended in the water. Sounds like common sense and it is but it’s surprisingly easy to get distracted when you’re a new parent, and all it takes is a second for an accident to happen. Maintain constant supervision of your child in any water environment, no matter how shallow the water.
- Take an infant-child CPR course. Ideally, do this prior to your baby’s birth so you’re ready to go right out of the gate. In the event of an accident, knowing CPR gives you precious minutes to care for your child while emergency help arrives.
- Floatation devices are no substitute for supervision. Floatation devices and inflatable toys can create a false sense of security. These devices can quickly shift position, deflate or come loose and create a drowning hazard. Do not use them as a substitute for supervision.
- Enroll your baby in an early swim-water survival course. If your baby can swim or at least demonstrate basic water survival skills, he or she will be much safer in or near the water. There’s no foolproof method to prevent drowning accidents, but baby learning programs for early swim can greatly reduce water danger.
- Practice sun safety for kids. Water play often occurs outdoors and sun safety is an important part of water safety for babies. Use a sunscreen, appropriate clothing and a large hat to protect your baby from the sun. Also make sure they stay hydrated in hot weather.
These tips are not all there is to say on the topic of water safety for babies, but keep them in mind and you will have a head start in protecting your child from drowning and common water hazards.