Tragically, 1000 children in the US drown each year, most between May and August and most in open water: lakes, ponds, rivers, oceans, canals, reservoirs and retention ponds. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, a ten-year-old is three times more likely to die in open water than in a pool and older teens are eight times more likely to die in open water. A new report by Safe Kids Worldwide, “Hidden Hazards: An Exploration of Open Water Drownings and Risks for Kids” identifies who is at greater risk of drowning.
- 8 in 10 open water drownings are males
- African American children are twice as likely to drown in open water than White children.
- Children in tribal communities are at even greater risk.
WHAT PARENTS CAN DO TO PROTECT CHILDREN IN OPEN WATER
- Teach your children to swim or enroll them in swim lessons.
- Keep your eyes on your children when they are in the water.
- Keep younger children within arm’s reach of an adult.
- Make sure that older children swim with a partner every time.
- Make sure children wear a US Coast Guard approved personal flotation device that is appropriate for their age, weight and water activity. Choose one for children under five that has a head support and strap between the legs.
- Swim in designated swimming and recreational areas.
- Teach children about open water: limited visibility, depth, uneven surfaces, current, undertows, big waves, changing conditions.
5 WAYS TO TELL IF YOUR CHILD IS CONFIDENT IN OPEN WATER
- Can your child run to the water, jump in and come back up?
- While in the water, can your child orient him/her self to you on the shore and come safely back to you?
- Can your child tread water for 30 to 60 seconds?
- Can your child swim in a forward motion with head up and breathing?
- Can your child exit the water safely?
This information is from the website, Safe Kids Worldwide.
About Peggy O’Mara. I am an independent journalist who edits and publishes peggyomara.com. I was the editor and publisher of Mothering Magazine for over 30 years and founded Mothering.com in 1995. My books include Having a Baby Naturally, Natural Family Living, The Way Back Home and A Quiet Place. I have conducted workshops at Omega Institute, Esalen, La Leche League, and Bioneers. I am the mother of four and grandmother of three. Please check out my email newsletter on parenting, activism, and healthy living.