Updated: May 26
The moment we've all been waiting for is upon us! June 5 marks the beginning of summer this year and I couldn't be more excited. E-learning will be done, the kids will finally get to relax, and you might even get to spend some days at the pool or beach -- in a social distancing friendly way of course.
Now that I have your attention, I want to share some things with you. In Hillsborough County, the rates of accidental child drownings have increased -- yes, increased. Fourteen children died from accidental drownings locally last year. I don’t know about you but that’s 14 too many! Our local Children's Board has been doing some great work through their Prevent Needless Deaths campaign to spread the word about things we can do to lower these numbers. As a mother, I support this mission and that's why I was so glad to be able to partner with them again to share some of my favorite ways to prevent accidental drownings.
With all that has been going on with the coronavirus and having kids home fulltime, our realities have undoubtedly changed. I don't know about you but I've had to work from home while being a teacher, a guidance counselor, lunch lady, and sometimes a principal.
Regardless of how busy things get, I still do my part to make sure our kids are safe — especially our little one. While we don't have a pool, my parents do and our little one loves to swim in it when we visit. Sometimes she just likes to sit on their lanai to get fresh air and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, we have to make sure our kids enjoy the outdoors in a safe and supervised way.
Here are a few steps you can take to keep your children safe around water —
Install a Pool Alarm
When my parents had their home built back in 2006, they had a pool alarm installed. My sister and I were ages 16 and 13 at the time. Our risk of drowning from being left unattended wasn't high because we were older and both knew how to swim. However, my parents still had it installed as a precaution.
Here we are nearly 15 years later and now grandchildren are part of the equation. Our little one is a water baby and loves to get in the pool every chance she gets. While she doesn't go outside without asking, it is still great knowing that we have that extra layer of protection when we visit. Most children who drown in a nearby pond or pool were last seen inside the house, and parents or caregivers thought the children were napping or playing inside. Therefore, it is a good idea to have a pool/door alarm installed to make sure you can hear where your child might be going at all times.
A few weeks ago, we headed up to my parents' place for some family time. It had been a while since we saw them and with all of the heaviness of our new normal, we thought it would be great to do something different. While the adults hung out at the table on the lanai, the kids hung out poolside. As you can see above, our little one was in direct view of my husband. On top of that, her big sis was right there and ready to spring into action if anything unfortunate were to happen.
Though we were engaged in good conversation while enjoying each other's company, someone always had eyes on our little one. Being distracted for even a few seconds can be a fatal mistake. Therefore, it is important to designate a “water watcher” who pays close attention while children are near water. As a friendly tip -- you'll likely want your "water watcher" to be someone that can swim just in case.
Stay Within Arm's Reach
This tip happens to be my favorite of them all. When children are in or near water, an adult should be within arm’s reach providing hands-on supervision, meaning the adult is close enough to rescue the child if needed. Staying within arm's reach can take different forms. In this case, I decided to join in on the fun! We don't have a pool yet so this inflatable pool is going to have to get the job done. Here's the thing though -- it still contains much more than the minimum amount of water a child can drown in (1 inch) but we also have a pond in our backyard. Until we get our fence installed (which is another tip), we are extremely vigilant when she's outside.
Remember, it only takes about 20 seconds for a child to drown. That's a little longer than an Instagram story time limit! This topic is a great conversation starter for those summer get togethers you may be having with your friends and loved ones this year.
We all have have a duty to prevent children from dying preventable deaths.
Learn more about how to keep your kids safe at PreventNeedlessDeaths.com.