Living in South Florida, we are surrounded by water. If we don’t live near a body of water, there are pools in many backyards - our own or that of our families. Over the last few months, we completed the construction of a pool in our backyard, and as soon as that pool was filled with water, water safety was on my mind. Considering that there were more than 80 drowning deaths in South Florida last year, I want to be sure to always keep my children safe in and around the water.
Even before we had a pool built, water safety was on my mind, and I started my son in swimming lessons soon after he turned a year old. His first summer of swim lessons were basically to make sure he could hold his breath underwater, but last summer I put him in intensive one on one lessons that would teach him how to swim to safety or turn over and float if there was nowhere for him to swim to. Over spring break I put him in a refresher course to reinforce what he learned last summer. We also made sure to have a pool fence installed when we were having the pool built.
While the fact that he knows how to swim definitely gives me a little more peace of mind, I know that there are additional steps I need to take to be sure that my children are both safe around the water. Most drownings occur while adults are nearby, talking, on their phones, or otherwise distracted. Drowning is not always a loud, splashing occurrence. It is actually, most often a silent event, and the only way to prevent it is to watch children when they are in or near water.
Remember when kids are swimming or playing near water:
- Never leave children alone near wading pools, tubs, pools or fountains. Watch them at all times.
- Don’t text or use electronic devices, except to call 911 in an emergency. Don’t be distracted by phones or conversation.
- Swimming lessons are important, but they don’t take the place of adult supervision.
- Contact a specialist for pool covers, or fencing and alarms restricting access to swimming pools, canals and other areas of water.
- Learn and become certified in CPR. For a list of upcoming CPR classes in both English and Spanish, families can visit: nicklauschildrens.org/cpr.
Making sure that someone is always paying attention to the water or to the children is another huge way to avoid a drowning event. To help you with this, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital is distributing free Water Watcher badges to families in the community. Assign a responsible adult to wear this Water Watcher badge while children are near water. The badge wearer takes responsibility to supervise until handing off the badge to the next water watcher. You can pick up a complimentary Water Watcher card today at the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Emergency Room and the following Nicklaus Children’s Urgent Care locations: www.nicklauschildrens.org/safety.
So enjoy your water activities this summer, but make sure you take above precautions to keep all the children in your life safe!