Swimming safety for children

Published 7:00 am Saturday, July 7, 2018

Swimming can be a fun summer activity for children of all ages. It can also be dangerous to young children and those who do not know how to swim.

According to coverage by the Sun Herald, a 2-year-old boy drowned in his grandparent’s pond in Vancleave on July 5. The family went swimming in the pond earlier that day. After they went inside, the boy snuck back out. By the time they realized he was missing, it was already too late, that coverage states.

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“Among those 1-14, fatal drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death behind motor vehicle crashes,” Center for Disease Control statistics state.

Children are at a disproportionately higher risk of accidental drowning compared to adults. According to the statistics, very young children, aged 1 to 4, have the highest drowning rates.

Reasons include lack of swimming ability, lack of supervision and lack of barriers.

“A four-sided isolation fence (separating the pool area from the house and yard) reduces a child’s risk of drowning by 83 percent compared to three-sided property-line fencing,” statistics state.

Cornerstone lifeguard Megan Faber said if a child doesn’t know how to swim, she suggested keeping a flotation device on a child and never leavening them unattended.

“Lifeguards aren’t babysitters, but we will step in if it’s necessary,” Faber said.

She recommends parents learn CPR, as it can be helpful in every area of life.

Cornerstone lifeguard Kyle Guidry said the first step to making sure a child is safe in the water is to introduce them to the water slowly. Get them comfortable with the temperature and how the water feels. He said if they are in a pool, start them off on the side of the pool so they can hold on and feel safe. Get them confortable with going under water so they don’t panic and teach them how to tread water.

Cornerstone lifeguard Gabbie Cruz also added that it is important for a parent to know their child’s strengths and weaknesses when around water and how to protect them with flotation devices if they are needed.

There are several things recommended in the article to ensure a child’s safety in water, including avoiding drains, pipes or any other object or structure that might trap a child.

When swimming in ponds, there are additional dangers. According to an article by the PennState extension service, besides potentially harmful pollutants, ponds often have sharp rocks, bottles and other objects under the water’s surface that could be harmful.

“Children must be supervised at all times when they are near a pond or lagoon. Lack of close supervision, underestimating the curiosity of children, and adults overestimating their child’s sense of judgment all contribute to young children drowning,” the article states.