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.
As a child swim instructor, I regularly review the basics of CPR for drowning prevention. The statistics demand a pro-active safety attitude with children in the water:
However, CPR for drowning prevention is knowledge everyone should have, especially parents of children who are frequently in the water. Here’s a summary of what you need to know along with some helpful resources to learn more, and be sure to check out our water safety worksheets for kids to get them up to speed.
- The first and most crucial point: if someone is drowning or is having difficulty after being pulled from the water, ask someone to call 911 immediately. If you are alone, administer CPR treatment for at least two minutes before making an attempt to get help.
- Be aware of your own safety, including dangerous water conditions. You can’t help someone else if you get yourself in trouble.
- CPR for drowning must include assisted breathing along with chest compressions. “Hands-only CPR” is a recent technique that applies primarily to victims of cardiac arrest. Drowning victims suffer from oxygen deprivation and need breaths to boost their chance of surviving.
Remember that swimming safety for kids is something they can participate in actively. It’s critical for parents and caregivers to know the basics of CPR for drowning victims, but kids should be taught as soon as they are able to learn: not only will they have a greater personal understanding of the importance of safety in the water, they may be able to save a life as this 11-year-old girl recently saved her 8-year-old sister using CPR for drowning.
Click here for our Water Safety Worksheets for Kids.
Kathleen McMordie is an Infant Aquatic Survival Lead Instructor and water safety specialist located in Katy, Texas. Show owns a full-service aquatic facility, called Texas Swim Academy. Through a variety of programs, Kathleen and her staff of instructors at Texas Swim Academy strive to introduce children to water at an early age through INFANT AQUATICS, and to fully develop their swim stroke abilities through adulthood through STROKE DEVELOPMENT.