By Jill “Mamabug” Frier
Summer is fast approaching and, unfortunately for Phoenix, so is accidental drowning season. City resources, state agencies and first responders come out in droves this time of year to caution parents to “Watch Your Kids Around Water.” Sadly, drowning is one of the leading causes of death for children under age four in Arizona. While most children drown in their own pools, other water sources can also be dangerous, including canals, buckets, toilets, bathtubs and ponds.
Here are some safety tips from the experts and local resources for you to help you keep your kids safe around water.
The best way to prevent drowning is to watch kids when they are in or around water – without distractions. Put the cell phone down and be sure to keep children within reach of an adult. And never leave a child alone around a water source – it only takes two inches of water to drown.
Other important ways to prevent drowning are to:
• Use an approved barrier to separate the pool from the house.
• Keep life-saving devices like hooks, poles, or flotation devices, near the pool and readily available.
• Don’t allow kids to play in the pool area or store toys near the pool.
• Keep large objects that kids can climb on, like tables, chairs, large toys or ladders, away from pool fences.
• Always have a designated child watcher whenever kids are around the pool and take the kids with you when you leave the area.
Don’t forget the non-pool areas, too. Be sure to empty all tubs, buckets, containers and kiddie pools immediately after you use them and store them upside down so they don’t collect water. Keep toilet lids shut and doors to bathrooms and laundry rooms closed.
Helping Someone in Danger
Accidents happen and sometimes kids find their way to the pool or water source, despite your best efforts. Do you know what to do in an emergency? An accident by definition is unexpected, which is why it is always a good idea to learn CPR and basic water rescue skills. You never know when you may need to step in and save someone’s life, child or adult.
The main steps to remember if you find someone in trouble in a water emergency are:
• Yell for help and pull the person out of the water.
• Call 9-1-1 immediately and stay on the line with the operator for instructions.
• Begin CPR, if you know it.
• If you are not trained, follow the instructions from the 9-1-1 operator until help arrives.
Plan ahead and prepare yourself to know what to do in an emergency, because learning CPR and basic water rescue skills may help you save a life.
Pool Safety Tips
One of the most important things you can do to keep your kids safe around water is to teach them to swim. Swimming lessons not only teach kids how to swim when they are in the water, they also teach kids to respect the potential dangers of the water and the rules for being safe around a pool. There are many different options for swimming lessons and a huge range of prices, times and locations. You can sign them up for private or group swimming lessons at one of the many swim schools in town, or go to a city pool or non-profit community center. Get your kids familiar with water, comfortable with the rules for a swimming pool, and respectful of the dangers that come with drowning.
Here are some specific tips to keep kids, and adults, safe around the pool this summer:
• Learn to swim – this is the best way to gain respect for the water and keep yourself afloat.
• Never swim alone – use the buddy system, whether you are an adult or keeping an eye on kids.
• Never swim under the influence of alcohol or medications – it’s hard to prevent drowning if you’re not awake, alert and attentive.
• Never swim when you hear thunder or see lightning – electricity and water are a bad combination.
• Never dive into an unfamiliar body of water – you never know what will be at the bottom.
• Learn CPR – you may just save someone’s life one day.
Water is a great way to cool off and have fun, but take steps to be safe and prevent accidents or drowning while you splash around. Be sure to check www.LadybugsBlog.com for many more ideas for having fun outside while keeping your kids safe this summer in Arizona!
For more information on Water Safety, call the City of Phoenix Fire Department Community Involvement Section 602-262-6910 or visit www.phoenix.gov/fire