As the summer approaches, children all over the country are looking forward to beating the heat by jumping into the water and soaking up the sun. While pools, lakes and rivers can bring a great deal of joy to people of all ages, they can also be dangerous hazards, especially in Arizona, which is ranked number two in the nation for child drownings. That’s why it’s important to make sure you are doing everything you can to keep everyone safe. Since May is Water Safety Awareness Month, here are 10 tips to help you avoid any water-related mishaps this summer.
Teaching children about water safety can provide them with basic tools to help them avoid any dangerous situations around the pool. The Y offers free water safety and drowning awareness education programs for youth and adults at several of our branches to help you get started.
One of the first steps in preventing drownings is learning how to swim. The Y has a variety of swimming lessons and aquatics programs that can help each member of your family gain their confidence in the water. All of our classes have a 1 to 6 instructor-to-student ratio, and children as young as 6 months can take lessons. There are also classes available for adults. For more information, visit : https://valleyymca.org/programs-activities/youth/swim/.
When someone is drowning, immediate action can be crucial in helping them survive. Taking CPR classes can help you save a victim’s life in the time it takes for the paramedics to arrive on scene. The Y has several training opportunities to get you CPR-certified or help you improve your skills. Find out more at https://valleyymca.org/programs/cpraed/.
Nothing takes the place of adult supervision, and children should never be left alone around water, even if it’s a bath tub or a bucket of water. Make sure to always be close enough to reach a child at all times, and don’t get distracted with your phone while supervising your little ones.
Sandra Franks, executive director of the Ahwatukee Foothills Family YMCA in Phoenix, suggests that you choose someone (or several people) who can serve as water watchers so that they guard the pool at all times. She adds that it may be helpful to have the designated water watcher wear a lanyard or whistle that can be handed off and serve as reminder of who’s on pool duty.
Accidents can happen at any moment and because of this, it’s good to be prepared when you head out to the pool. This includes making sure you have all your sunscreen, equipment, sunglasses and toys in hand so you won’t have to go back inside to grab anything and leave the kids alone in the water. Franks recommends that you prepare an outdoor basket or bucket that contains all of these items and have it ready to go as you walk out the door.
Franks says that it may not be wise to go to the pool alone because at any moment, a medical emergency can occur. Always swim with a buddy. Inviting a friend along can provide you with a helping hand when you need it most.
A recent survey conducted by the American Red Cross found that two thirds of parents mistakenly believe that putting inflatable arm bands or “floaties” on children is enough to keep them safe while swimming. It’s essential that your child wear a United States Coast Guard (USCG) certified life vest. This means that when purchasing a flotation device, you need to look for the USCG stamp of approval on its labeling. Each device has a designated weight range assigned to them, and there are five types of devices to choose from, although type 4 devices are not recommended for children or those with little swimming ability. Always remember that air-filled flotation devices and foam tubes are not proper safety devices.
Children, and adults who have been drinking, can easily wander or fall into home pools and drown. The CDC advises using self-closing and self-latching gates that open outward with latches that are out of reach of children.
Removing floats, balls and other toys from the pool area immediately after use helps reduce children’s temptation to enter the area unsupervised.