Summer is here and with it come outdoor and water activities. As San Diego County continues to re-open and we start heading outside for some fun in the sun, it’s important to keep safety in mind, especially when it comes water safety Whether swimming, boating, bathing, or simply spending time near water, it takes just a few seconds for an accident to happen and drowning is usually quick and silent. A person who is drowning will lose consciousness in as little as two minutes after submersion, with irreversible brain damage occurring within four to six minutes.
Children are at particular risk of drowning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drownings a leading cause of injury deaths in children 1-14 years old and are the leading cause of injury death for young children 1-4 years old, Fortunately, drownings and near drownings are preventable. Taking the following actions can help save a life:
- Make sure pools and spas are enclosed on all four sides with a fence at least 60 inches high with self-closing and latching gates. Latches should be a minimum of 54 inches from the ground and gates should open outward.
- Have life-saving devices, such as a hook, pole, or flotation device, near the pool.
- Do not allow children to play in the pool area. Store all toys out of the pool area.
- Any door that provides direct access to the pool should have an exit alarm installed.
- Drains in pools and spas should have anti-entrapment drain covers.
- Learn infant and child CPR and always have a phone near the pool for emergency use. If possible, the phone should be a “landline” rather than a cell phone.
- Know the address of your location in case you have to call 9-1-1. This is especially important if you only have access to a cell phone. If you are at a location such as the beach or a lake that does not have a specific address, know the name of the closest street and cross street. Being able to provide other landmarks, such as a lifeguard tower number, is also helpful.
- NEVER leave children unattended in or around a pool or water source. ALWAYS have a designated “Water Watcher” who is responsible for watching those in the pool at all times. The Water Watcher should avoid distracting activities such as being on their phone, playing games, reading, or having distracting conversations. If you leave the pool area, designate another Water Watcher or take all children with you.
- Every child over the age of three should have swimming lessons. Even then, they are still susceptible to danger in the water, especially if something causes them to panic.
- Children using air-filled swimming aids should always be supervised by an adult within arm’s reach.
- When diving, always protect your head and neck by extending your arms over your head. Never dive into shallow water or water with an unknown depth.
- A U.S. Coast guard approved lifejacket should be worn for water sports such as tubing, skiing or jet skiing. Air-filled aids such as inner tubes, water wings, and inflatable rafts are not substitutes for approved lifejackets.
- Most boating accidents involve the consumption of alcohol. Never drink while operating a boat.
Following these simple guidelines can help everyone have a fun and safe time under the sun this summer. For more information on water safety, please check out the following resources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Drowning Prevention