Category Archives: Pool and Water Safety

Summer Water Safety

Happy toddler girl having fun in a swimming pool

Now that summer is here and people are heading to the pool, the beach, pond, river or lake, it’s time for some water safety reminders.

Childsafetyblog.org wants parents and caregivers to put on their thinking-bathing caps when they do take in aquatic activities!  Being safe in and around water–even a child’s wading pool–is crucial to your child’s life and your happiness. Unfortunately, we must remind everyone that drowning can occur quickly.

SafeKids’ “drowning prevention” fact sheet ( http://www.safekids.org/our-work/research/fact-sheets/drowning-prevention-fact-sheet.html ) tells us that each year more than 830 children under the age of 14 drown and that nearly 3,600 injuries to children occur from near-drowning accidents.  No matter what we think about the recently televised Casey Anthony trial, the trial drew attention to very necessary pool safety and how easy it can be for very young children to access a family pool.  Here’s a sad factoid:

  • Home swimming pools are the most common site for a drowning to occur for a child between the ages 1 to 4 years.

One might think it would be just the opposite, that at home, parents, family members, caregivers or babysitters might be more available to watch a young child in and around the pool. However, these kinds of accidents usually occur when someone is not watching or paying attention, even though caregivers have claimed that children involved in drowning accidents were being supervised while in the water.

It bears repeating that accidents in and around the water happen fast.

These accidents happened, and the families of these children are bereft. It is painful to ask questions afterward–who was supervising, who was watching?   More facts:

  • 16 percent of drowning deaths in children under 5 years of age are at a family or friend’s pool, while 17 percent of deaths occur at a public, community, or neighbor pool.
  • The majority of infant (less than 1 year old) drowning deaths happen in bathtubs, buckets, or toilets.

This last fact, to us, is stunning.  But it also dictates that we, as parents and caregivers, can be the safety supervisor in our child’s lives when they are doing something as dangerous… as taking a bath.  Yes, dangerous.  Drowning can occur in as little as three inches of water.  SafeKids says that the most dangerous pools are children’s public wading pools, in-ground hot tubs or any others pools that have flat drain grates and/or a single main drain system. For these the danger is entrapment.

Childsafetyblog.org reminds parents to “actively supervise your children when they are in and around water at all times, and have a phone nearby to call for help in any emergency.

Blind Xpress Window Blinds Recalled Due to Child’s Death

Posted by Marianne Frederick

People will read about this kind of recall and say, “It should not happen!” We think, we hope, by now, that most people have heard repeated warnings about the dangers of window blind cords and strangulation. Parents, especially, have been warned by the news media, as well as by organizations focused on child safety, about placing a child’s crib near a window. So, why do accidents of this type keep happening and the statistics continue to increase?

We believe that it is not for lack of education or for the love of our children. The products are on the market, and people purchase them assuming that simply because they are being sold by reputable stores that they are safe! Parents and caregivers are busy, often caring for more than one child at home. There’s so much for parents to accomplish in the non-working hours. There’s a never-ending list of to-do’s with which most parents are all too familiar. It’s hard to stay focused. There are many distractions from meetings, to visitors, phone calls and text messages that demand a parent’s attention.

We’ve all heard of distracted driving… and even distracted walking… Perhaps what we’re doing is sometimes distracted living. Technology, as engaging as can be, often steals our focus from daily duties and priorities–and makes us forget what we need to be doing right now. I am as guilty as the next person–while working on my desktop PC, I forget to turn off eggs boiling on the stove–even though I’m in the same room. Exploding eggs and the smell of burned sulfur jar me back to the reality of the mess to clean up–and I think about what could have happened, even fire!

As parents, we are reminded continually to be focused, but beyond being and staying focused, we need to pay attention to recalls and warnings. Ignoring them won’t make them disappear. Not only are there many unsafe and untested children’s products on the market, but the normal things one finds in our homes on a daily basis can be deadly… like button batteries, medications, matches, space heaters, baby bathers and, certainly, window blinds. A woman at a class reunion recently announced, “We didn’t have all these cautions and we grew up!” Yes, many of us grew up, but some of us didn’t, like our classmate whose parents had a faulty swing set from which their daughter fell.

There are a number of websites listing recalls of unsafe products on the Internet. If parents don’t have a computer at home (or have access to a smart phone or iPad), they can check the http://www.cpsc.gov website for recalls from a computer at their local library. Check our website, http://www.childsafetyblog.org for recalls too! ChildSafetyBlog.org is devoted to keeping children safer and to helping parents and caregivers accomplish this most important goal. So, parents, stay focused, stay informed of recalls and keep children safe!

Water Safety for Parents of Young Children

Posted by Marianne Frederick

Pools make for great family fun in the summer, whether you take young children to the community or neighborhood pool, or you have a swimming pool in your backyard!

One way to keep pool experiences with your children safe and fun is to make sure certain safety precautions are in place!

First, think about water! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tell us that children under the age of 4 have the highest rate of drowning in the U.S., most commonly in swimming pools and spas. This statistic highlights the importance of making sure there are necessary physical barriers to a pool, such as pool fencing, pool gate or door locks, and pool alarms. It is important that a young child cannot gain access to a pool without an adult’s assistance and supervision.

Second, it is critical for parents and caregivers to supervise a young child all of the time, especially in and around water–whether it’s at the pool or beach, in the bathtub, wading pool or bucket–children can drown in less than 3 inches of water. Merely the nature of water can make a child slippery, and slips and falls are common around pools. Because water displaces body weight, a small, young child can easily lose their balance even in shallow water. Add to that the hard surface of a pool side or step, or the board of a boat dock–and you may face a trip to an emergency room.

One word of caution to moms and dads, supervising a child at the pool does not equal sitting by the pool and talking on your cell phone while your child is playing in the water. One young mother on her cell phone at a local pool remarked when I asked her if her child was in the pool, “He’s wearing a life jacket.” You should keep your cell phone with you at the pool–in case of emergency. But don’t take your attention away from your child in the water! A life jacket is good, but it’s still no substitution for the focused attention of a parent or caregiver who can intervene if a young child gets in trouble in the water.

Recently, two young neighbor children were playing with a hose in the neighbor’s front yard. The older child pointed the hose in the younger child’s face, and the hose was on full blast. The younger child (about 3 years old) had her mouth open–and was choking. This was definitely a “when you see something, do something” moment! Very fortunately, their parent had also seen them (from inside the house), came out and rescued the young child from choking and drowning. A child doesn’t need to be in a pool or a tub, to drown! What was wrong with that picture is a parent or caregiver should have been outside with the two young children and the 5-year old should not have had access to the hose or water spigot. Accidents happen quickly.

As parents and caregivers, we can’t be casual about supervision of young children in or around water, so here are a few additional safety tips:

  • Young children should not be allowed to use pool equipment designed for older, larger children–even floating water toys can be dangerous to young children.
  • If a child cannot swim, get an appropriately sized life jacket for your child’s size and weight, make sure it fits and that it keeps your child’s face and mouth above the water.
  • Make sure life jackets are certified floatation devices. You will see a notation on the life jacket. Water wings and inner tubes are flotation toys, not life-saving devices, so make sure your child has the correct flotation device.

Swimming Can Be Fun… But Watch For These Summer Visitors!

The summer swimming season isn’t over yet, and kids are coming down with what we used to call, “Swimmer’s Ear.” It’s easy for kids to get swimmer’s ear, otherwise known as “Acute Otitis Externa” — a painful infection of the outer ear canal, usually caused by bacteria. Common symptoms usually include redness and swelling of the ear, and there can be drainage from the ear. Your child may say you sound “funny” as though you are in a cave or as though their ears are “stopped up.” Of course, this affliction is more common in the summertime, when families with children visit the beach, pool or lake to swim, but you will find swimmer’s ear where people swim in indoor pools during other times of the year, as well.

Some basic tips to avoid your child coming home with swimmer’s ear are:

  • Help prevent water from entering your child’s ears by making sure they wear a bathing cap or use ear plugs when in swimming;
  • Discourage your child from ducking their head under the water frequently if they are prone to get water in their ears (this tip is more effective with adults than children);
  • To help water drain from your child’s ear, gently pull on the affected ear’s earlobe in different directions while the child bends their head over (facing their feet);
  • Dry your child’s outer-ears with a towel following swimming (this prevents residue water from running into the ear even after the child gets out of the water).

Swimming is a wonderful sport, and great exercise for children — perhaps the best full-body exercise– but there’s one more thing to watch for if your children swim in a fresh water lake, river or pond and that is: Swimmer’s Itch! Swimmer’s Itch, a.k.a. cercarial dermatitis. It’s a raised, red rash that appears on skin that was exposed to the water, anywhere from an hour to 48 hours following swimming. It’s caused by parasites that live in fresh water–and it usually clears up on its own, but the itching can be treated with over-the-counter or prescription anti-itch preparations sold at the local pharmacy. Make sure to check with the pharmacist for child dosing instructions! If the rash persists longer than a couple of days or there is any pus or other discomfort associated with the rash, please consult your pediatrician or dermatologist or take your child to the nearest emergency room.

Summer is almost over… so soon we can begin to think about other wonderful things to do safely with our kids… like camping, biking, playground activities–and so much more! Childsafetyblog.org wishes you a happy and safe end to this summer 2011.

We Need To Talk About “Water Safety” – Part 1 of 2

Two weeks ago, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) held a press conference releasing the latest statistics on water-related accidents and children.  Up to Memorial Day weekend, 55 drowning and 63 near-drowning incidents had been reported by the media occurring in 29 states and territories in the first five months of 2011.  Additional stunning statistics published by the CPSC are:

  • An annual average of 383 pool and spa-related drownings had occurred to children younger than 15 from 2006 to 2008; almost 76 percent of the reported fatalities involved children younger than five.
  • An estimated average of 5,100 pool or spa emergency department-treated submersions for children younger than 15 occurred each year from 2008 to 2010; children younger than five represented 79 percent of these-injuries.
  • Children between the ages of one and three (12 to 47 months) represented 66 percent of these fatalities and 64 percent of the injuries.

ChildSafetyBlog.org thinks these statistics are very significant and that safety cautions and water safety recommendations should be reviewed by parents, family members, baby sitters, and caregivers at the beginning of every summer swimming season.  Every year there are new water toys on the market; there are new types of pools and spas; not to mention new kinds of boats and watercraft to which you and your family may be exposed.  So before parents allow children to ride in or on, or use certain water toys, they need to know what they are and which are safest. They also need to know what is available for use in personal flotation devices–how safe they are and where and when to use them.

We recommend to all parents, family members and babysitters–that you not take a child into the water to swim or to ride in or on a watercraft if YOU cannot swim.  Many YMCA/YWCAs, universities, community colleges, community pools and wellness centers offer courses in swimming and life-saving. If you don’t know how to swim, it’s vital to learn if you have children who are going swimming! If you don’t know CPR (Cardio-Pulmonary Recussitation), it’s also good to have this in your personal skill set.  There is no more frustrating experience, than to watch a person who cannot swim get in trouble and not be able to help them–whether it is your child or someone else’s.

Childsafetyblog.org also recommends staying close to kids–simply watching your kids when they are in the water, at the beach, in the pool or in the spa is fundamental to their safety and your peace of mind. So take a break, get out on the dock or the deck and make sure you know where your children are and who they are with–if not you–when water is involved. Playing in the water is fun and kids can get tired.  Accidents can happen quickly and paying attention to your children and their swimming capabilities can prevent heartache.

Childsafetyblog.org wishes you a happy, healthy, and safe summer!