Prevent a child from drowning by practicing water safety during National Drowning Prevention Month, educate yourself, your neighbors and other caregivers on how to keep kids safe.
Drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 4 in the Tampa Bay region. In fact, over the last five years, more than 40 children under the age of 6 have died from drowning in our area. Six of those deaths occurred in 2016.
Drowning can happen to any child, anywhere, at any time. It’s not limited to pools and beaches – there are potential hazards in and around your home that can put your kids at risk.
During National Drowning Prevention and National Water Safety Month, take a few minutes to learn about the dangers of drowning and how you can help prevent a child’s death. Put these important tips to use:
Stay alert. Child drowning often happens silently, without the child splashing or calling out for help. This makes it even easier for a drowning child to go unnoticed, so stay alert.
Designate a “water watcher.” Lack of adult supervision in and around the water is the main reason children die from drowning. An adult should be assigned to keep their eyes on the child at all times when they are near water. The watcher has to avoid distraction, especially by phone calls, texting or other electronic devices.
Be within arm’s reach. Young children can drown in as little as 20 seconds. When infants and toddlers are in or around water, an adult should be within arm’s reach, meaning the adult is close enough to rescue the child if needed providing hands-on supervision.
Never rely on floatation devices. There is no substitute for supervision – not even flotation devices, such as water wings, inner tubes, or even life vests.
Enclose your pool and create barriers so children can’t access it. Be sure your pool and any pool your child visits follows all legal requirements for barriers and locks. All pools should have isolation fencing with self-closing, self-latching locks that are out of reach from small children.
Get professional help. Take advantage of programs that offer swim lessons. For example, The Children’s Board of Hillsborough County’s Mobile Water Safety Team provides swim lessons and water safety education at no cost in community and apartment complex pools.
Be aware of hidden hazards. A child can drown in as little as 1 inch of water. Everything from your toilet to your pet’s water bowl can pose a drowning risk. Empty all bathtubs, buckets and inflatable pools when they are no longer in use. Keep pet bowls out of reach from children and bathroom doors closed.
Drowning deaths in young children must end, and you can help. Educate friends, neighbors, babysitters, grandparents and other potential caregivers about the dangers of drowning and the measures they can take today to keep children safe around water.
Every member of our community – not just parents – bears the responsibility of educating themselves and others on water safety tips to eliminate the death of a child that is 100 percent preventable.
To learn more about water safety and preventing needless child deaths, visit www.PreventNeedlessDeaths.com.