Gwinnett County Department of Fire and Emergency Services, Safe Kids Gwinnett and Gwinnett Parks and Recreation, are teaming up to prevent water related emergencies. Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death among children between the age of 1 and 4-years-old. In 2014, Gwinnett fire and emergency services personnel responded to 24 near-drowning incidents.
On average more than 1,000 children in the U.S. drown each year and more than 5,000are seen in hospital emergency rooms for injuries from near-drowning incidents. That’s why firefighters and other safety advocates are getting the word out on programs to reduce water related emergencies.
Studies show that 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. Distracting activities include talking, eating, reading or taking care of another child. Even a near-drowning episode can have lifelong consequences. Kids who survive a near-drowning may have brain damage, and after four to six minutes under water the damage is usually irreversible.
In the wake of recent water related incidents nationwide, emergency personnel recommend the following tips to keep kids safe in and around water:
- Give kids your undivided attention – Actively supervise children in and around water, without distraction.
- Use the Water Watcher strategy – When there are several adults present and children are swimming, use a Water Watcher card to designate an adult as the Water Watcher for a certain amount of time (such as 15 minute periods) to prevent lapses in supervision and give parents a chance to take a break.
- Teach kids not to swim alone – Whether you’re swimming in a backyard pool, neighborhood pool, or at the lake or river, teach children to swim with an adult. Older, more experienced swimmers should still swim with a partner every time. From the first time your kids swim, teach them to never go near or in water without an adult present.
- Wear Life Jackets – Always have your child wear a life jacket approved by the U.S. Coast Guard while on boats, around open bodies of water or when participating in water sports. Make sure the life jacket fits snugly.
- Learn CPR – We know you have a million things to do, but learning CPR should be at the top of the list this summer. Knowing what to do to help a person in distress could save a life.
- Be Extra Careful around pool drains – Teach children to never play or swim near pool drains or suction outlets, which can cause situations where kids can get stuck underwater.
- Check the pool first if a child is missing – Be sure to check the pool first anytime a child is missing or unaccounted for. Install barriers around the pool such as a fence and secure gate to keep children out.
- Watch out for open bodies of water around the house – A person, especially small children, can drown in any amount of water. Be cautious when children are around open bodies of water such as a wash bucket, bathtub or hot tub.
For additional information on swimming pool and water safety, please visit the Safe Kids Worldwide website at www.safekids.org/poolsafety. You may also contact the Gwinnett Fire Community Risk Reduction Division at 678.518.4845 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.