“Kids drown quickly and quietly,” said Shawneri Guzman, coordinator of Safe Kids Snohomish County. “A drowning child cannot cry or shout for help. The most important precaution for parents is active supervision. Simply being near your child is not necessarily supervising,” said Guzman.
Even a near-drowning incident can have lifelong consequences. Kids who survive a near-drowning may sustain brain damage. After four to six minutes under water, the damage is usually irreversible. Although 90 percent of parents say they supervise their children while swimming, many acknowledge that they engage in other distracting activities at the same time - talking, eating, reading or taking care of another child. .
To help keep kids safe this water season, Safe Kids Snohomish County recommends these precautions:
- Actively supervise children in and around water. Don’t leave, even for a moment. Stay where you can see, hear and reach kids in water. Avoid talking on the phone, preparing a meal, reading and other distractions.
-Always use a life jacket if you will be in a boat or in the water. Life jacket size/weight must be correct. It must fit snugly. When arms are lifted, the life jacket should not lift up to the chin. All jacket straps, zippers and ties must be fastened.
-If you have a pool or spa, or if your child visits a home that has a pool or spa, it should be surrounded on all four sides by a fence at least five feet high with gates that close and latch automatically. Studies estimate that this type of isolation fencing could prevent 50 to 90 percent of child drowning in residential pools.
-Don’t leave toys in or near the pool, where they could attract unsupervised kids. For extra protection, consider a pool alarm and alarms on the doors, windows and gates leading to the pool.
-Enroll your kids in swimming lessons after age 1, but don’t assume swimming lessons make your child immune to drowning. There is no substitute for active supervision.
-Don’t rely on inflatable swimming toys such as “water wings” and swim noodles. If your child can’t swim, be sure to stay within an arm’s reach.
-Learn infant and child CPR. In less than two hours, you can learn effective interventions that can give a fighting chance to a child whose breathing and heartbeat have stopped. Contact your local fire department for more information about infant and child CPR classes available locally.
-Keep rescue equipment, a phone and emergency numbers by the pool.
-These guidelines apply to inflatable and portable pools, in-ground pools as well as lakes and rivers. A child can drown in just an inch of water. Kiddie pools should be emptied and stored out of reach when not in use.
Life Jacket Loaner Cabinets
Safe Kids Snohomish County’s life jacket loaner program currently consists of six life jacket loaner cabinets at various locations throughout the county. The cabinets are open and available for both kids and adults from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day. Life jackets are checked out and must be returned by the end of each day. There are directions on each cabinet explaining how to size and fit your child into a life jacket.