It won't be long before kids are swimming and splashing in pools and lakes across America. Before your little one grabs his or her swimsuit and dives in, now's the time to refresh your memory on water safety.
According to a new federal report, drowning kills more American children, ages 1 to 4 years old, than any cause except birth defects. Half drown in swimming pools and males are four times more likely to drown than females.
As bad as drowning is, more people suffer injuries or near drowning. Between 2005 and 2009, more than 3,800 people of all ages drowned annually nationwide. Another 5,700 people went to the hospital in near-drowning incidents. Of these, 50 percent were hospitalized or transferred for additional care, the report's authors said.
Many of the survivors suffered irreversible brain damage said the report's co-author Dr. Julie Gilchrist, a medical epidemiologist in the CDC's Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention.
Research has shown that swimming lessons- for kids 1 to 4- can be a lifesaver. "It would be really nice for children to have the skills so they can manage themselves in the rare event that they end up in the water and survive long enough so parents can find them and get them out," Gilchrist said.
Little kids are more likely to sneak into a pool, or accidentally fall in. Many times parents are not aware that their child is outside of the house. That's why barriers are so important. "That's why you have to have barriers, something that will slow down your child's access to the water," noted Gilchrist.
To help prevent drowning or accidents, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers these tips on water and pool safety.
- All caregivers should learn CPR.
- Never leave a toy in or around a pool.
- Never leave a child alone in or near a pool.
- Make sure an adult is always within arm's length.
- Children ages 1 to 4 years old should take swimming lessons. But remember that teaching children to swim does not guarantee their safety in the water.
- Teach children to never run, push or jump on others around water. Teach them never to swim alone.
- Keep a phone by the pool, along with rescue equipment, such as a life preserver and a shepherd's hook -- a long pole with a hook at the end.
- Pools should be surrounded by a fence at least 4-feet high. Pool gates should self-close and self-latch at a height unreachable by small children.
- If you have an inflatable or plastic pool, empty it after each use and turn it upside down.
Summer is the season when families are able to spend more together and enjoy outdoor activities. As temperatures rise, many will be at the pool cooling down. Practice the water safety tips listed above and have a fabulous time!