With soaring temperatures and sunny skies, summertime offers the perfect opportunity to enjoy some water fun! Playing in the backyard pool or visiting the beach is what family summer memories are made of, but an afternoon of fun and games can quickly become tragic if necessary water safety precautions aren’t met.
According to the Lifesaving Society, Canada has averaged 400 water-related deaths per year since 2009. The Lifesaving Society also states that drowning is the number one cause of unintentional death among children ages one to four and the second leading cause of preventable death of children under the age of 10. A young child can drown in as little as 2.5 cm (or one inch) of water in just seconds.
Prevent accidents and enjoy some family fun in the water with these tips…
Water Safety Tips
Parental supervision is the best way to keep kids safe while in water. Whether they’re at the splash pad, in a pond, at the beach or your backyard pool, it’s important to keep your eye on them and, especially with younger kids and weak swimmers, be within arm’s reach at all times.
Be prepared for emergency situations by knowing how to swim and learning basic life-saving skills such as CPR and first aid. To learn more about first aid and CPR training in your area, visit St. John Ambulance Canada.
Fence Off the Pool
According to Safe Kids Canada, half of all drowning and near-drowning incidents involving kids under 14 happen in swimming pools. Child-proof your backyard pool by installing a four-sided fence of at least 1.2 metres (four feet) high with self-closing and self-latching gates. (Height requirements vary by province; check your local by-laws to ensure you’re in compliance with all local regulations.)
Invest in Swimming Lessons
While swimming lessons aren’t 100 per cent drown-proof, they do provide kids with the training needed to be safe while in water and are recommended. When it comes to very young children, however (according to the Canadian Paediatric Society), “Swimming programs for infants and toddlers less than four years of age should not be promoted as being an effective drowning prevention strategy”, as children under four are too young to react to water survival skills that would help them in an emergency situation.
Use Life Jackets
Kids who weigh at least 20 pounds should wear life jackets when playing in or around water. Invest in a life vest that is approved by the Coast Guard or Transport Canada and ensure it’s the proper fit. Weight and size recommendations can be found on the label, but it’s important to have your child try it on prior to purchase to ensure it’s a snug fit. For kids under the age of five, choose a life jacket that offers head support to keep their face out of the water and has straps between the legs.
*Please note – Never replace life jackets with “Water wings” or inflatable tubes. They are considered water toys and will not prevent drowning.
While scary to think about, understanding water risks is extremely important. Water accidents are completely preventable as long as you follow the proper safety precautions.