President’s Perspective - Drownings

From Issue: 
Vol LV No. 3, July 2011

Each year we hear news of a drowning involving a toddler or young child. These sad and often preventable tragedies prompt me to remind parents and guardians to never leave children unattended, in or near the water…not even for a moment.

It only takes seconds for a child to drown, and it is often silent. Many children who drown do so because parents or caregivers lose sight of them for a short period of time. Be vigilant. Supervision of children should include an adult being within arm’s length of the child at all times. The overwhelming majority of drownings among toddlers do not actually involve people swimming. In fact, the majority of toddlers involved in a drowning incident were playing or walking near water when the drowning or near-drowning occurred.

Always organize your pool activity time so that there’s no need to leave the premises to answer doors, tend to cooking or have any other distraction. Keep a telephone and emergency numbers by the pool. Teach your children the pool rules, both in and out of the water. It is also a good idea to know how to swim or have an experienced adult swimmer supervise children, and having First Aid and CPR training is highly recommended.

Here are some more fundamental rules to ensure pool safety:

Install a fence that encloses the pool on all four sides, including access to the house. The fence should be at least 1.2 meters high (check with your municipality to ensure compliance with any bylaw) and have a self latching gate, out of children’s reach. Remember, most kids who drown in pools never intended on being in the water.

Keep safety equipment by the pool. Have rescue equipment such as a life preserver and a long pole to extend to someone in trouble in the water. Avoid the use of air-filled water wings and tubes as an alternative to proper floatation devices, you cannot rely on these. Always put young children and weak swimmers in properly fitted lifejackets, when in, on or around water. Your pool should also be equipped with an approved safety pool cover and an anti-entrapment drain cover to prevent children from being trapped underwater.

At the end of the pool-time activity, take all toys out of the pool. This will ensure that children are not tempted to reach in for them later and fall into the pool.

Enroll your children in swimming lessons. This includes learning how to float and knowing how to climb out of a pool. It does not ensure that a child will be safe in water or drown-proof, but it might make a difference in self-rescue.

I encourage you to take all precautions while around water this summer. Whether you are in your backyard, at a local pool, or on the lake, be vigilant and make sure that children are always supervised by an adult.

Safety, It’s an Attitude!

Jack Smith, President