It takes only moments for tragedy to strike. Given that children can drown in as little as one minute, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends multiple layers of protection.
Fence in backyard pools
A big myth about drowning is that it’s obvious when in fact, it usually is not.
Frances Seeley, Aquatic Director at the YMCA, says, “But with young children, it’s usually silent. They go under and then they don’t ever come back up or they come up once and then that’s it, there was no time for them, no breath for them to yell.”
When it comes to larger above ground pools- the ladder should be taken off at night with a fence around it high enough to stop not only your children but neighborhood children from entering. Consider a pool alarm. The biggest prevention to drowning is no access to the water.
Frances says smaller pools should be emptied after use and that even inflatable or portable pools can be deadly, especially for babies and young toddlers who have a harder time balancing.
“That 18-month-old, that 1-year-old, their face is in the water, they can’t get their face out and they don’t know how to solve that problem and they can drown like that. They can drown just falling forward in the water,” says Seeley.
It’s important to always be in arms length of the children swimming. Passive supervision, like being nearby and listening, or on your phone, isn’t enough.
Seeley says, “If it’s in the backyard- you’re in the backyard. Because drowning is the leading cause of death in young children, even before COVID when people were putting their pools in the backyard.”
Also be cautious of flotation devices that can give children a sense of false security- like water wings or pool noodles. They are considered more as toys rather then a personal flotation device, like a lifejacket.
Teens are not left out of this warning and may be even more vulnerable.
Seeley says, “The thing about teens is not only do some of them not know how to swim, they are not apt to tell their friends they don’t know how to swim and they get themselves into danger.”
Lake front safety is important as well. Don’t swim alone, always wear life jackets on a boat or jet ski and enter the water feet first.
Seeley also suggests learning CPR to be as prepared as you can if a situation arises, saying, “You do everything you can to prevent a drowning, but then train yourself so if there is one, you can help.”
for more information on YMCA swimming lessons.