Summer and water; this is a natural pairing because kids gravitate to water. But according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, drowning is the second leading cause of death for children aged one to four.
You’ve made sure that you put your kids in swimming lessons since they were tadpoles themselves, but summer increases the temptation for kids to play near water. Whether it’s poking around at slimy stuff, or tossing stones in to hear the giant ‘plop’, if there’s water, they’ll be near it. Keeping them safe is a summer-long challenge.
AROUND THE HOME
Even if you don’t have a pool, kids need to be supervised near any water source. It may seem unlikely, but children can drown in less than six centimetres of water! Watch them around fountains, playing near a water-filled ditch or birdbath or even a bathroom sink. And a child should never be left in a bathtub, even if it’s nearly drained.
“My daughter loved to float her little plastic animals in the bathroom sink,” says Nancy R., of Bradford, Ontario, “but one day, while I was just walking by, I noticed she was putting her face right into the sink. She said she wanted to see what the animals could see. If I hadn’t been there that second and if I hadn’t happened to look in, I shudder to think what could have happened.”
POOL AND HOT TUB ‘KNOW-NOS’
You can’t relax with a great read and a tall lemonade, even if your kids have had swimming lessons. Here’s some basic guidelines:
NO FUNNY BUSINESS: The rule of no running, no pushing and no roughhousing needs to be enforced around water. Keep little ones in a personal flotation device, but keep an eye on them at all times. Remind them that although they feel they can swim well, diving should be only done in designated areas and under strict supervision.
KNOW THE WEATHER: Summer storms can come up quickly. Teach kids that the minute the weather turns bad they must climb out, even if they’re at a friend’s pool. This keeps them safe in case of lightning.
NO HOT TUBS: Kids can become dangerously overheated in hot tubs – so it’s best not to let them use them at all.
KNOW WHOM TO CALL: Teach your children that it’s okay to alert an adult or lifeguard if they think something is wrong. And keep a cordless phone with 911 on speed dial whenever you are by the pool with kids. This will save precious seconds if something goes wrong.
NO TOY LEFT BEHIND: Remove all pool toys and put them away after your kids are finished playing in the pool. Children have drowned while trying to retrieve playthings left in the pool.
KNOW YOUR SITTER: Make sure your babysitter knows your pool rules and has had lifesaving training if you have a pool at home.