Soon it will be summer time with hot temperatures and all of us trying to find a way to cool off. Whether it’s a pool, lake or pond, it’s important that we are aware of what is needed to stay safe.
Few know better than myself how important water safety is. We grew up with a dad who was deathly afraid of water. When we were very young we never understood why, but as we became old enough to understand, the family secret was shared with us.
My dad was one of seven boys, but we only knew five of our uncles. One day when my uncle was fourteen, he went down to the river with a friend from school and built a raft to go out on. As they launched the raft, the current pulled the raft out and pulled my uncle under the tow.
When we were kids all we were told was that he drowned. When I got older I went back to that date he died and looked at the newspaper. Not only was my uncle pulled under but they could not find him for 5 days. My dad and his family waited five days to find out what happened to his brother.
Every day the front page story was how they continued to look for my uncle and on the fifth day the story in the paper read “Heinsler boy found dead ………” It was bad enough knowing that my uncle died, but when I read all of this my heart ached for my dad, my grandmother and the rest of my uncles.
Now I really understood why my dad was so afraid of the water and why he made all of us kids take swimming lessons.
I never realized that over a thousand kids each year die from drowning. Nor did I know that drowning is the second leading cause of death for kids between the ages of 5 and 24.
So you don’t have to experience such sadness when that loud knock at the door comes by a policeman telling you your son or daughter has died, please take the following water safety practices to heart.
Rule number one is that kids need constant supervision around water, whether the water is in an ornamental fish pond, a bathtub, a wading pool, a swimming pool, a spa, the beach, or a lake. It is true that kids can die in less than two inches of water.
This means they can die in the sink, a bucket of water or even the toilet. Take care and don’t leave any standing water around where your child has access to it. Don’t let your child out of site when there is water around.
As my dad did with us kids, send your kids who are at least four years of age for swimming lessons. Kids younger than four but older than one can also benefit from swimming lessons, but before you do this with a young child, check with your pediatrician.
Don’t make the assumption that because a child knows how to swim that they won’t drown. All kids should have someone watching them while they are around water and more specifically when they are swimming.
Older kids should never go swimming alone. Do not allow your child to be out in the back swimming unless you are out here with them.
If you have a pool at home make sure it’s surrounded by a fence that locks and can only be entered through the locked door. The According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), fences should meet these standards:
- Fences should stand at least 4 feet high with no foot or handrails for kids to climb on.
- The slats should be less than 4 inches apart so a child can’t get through, or if chain link, should have no opening larger than one and a quarter inches.
- Gate latches should be should be out of the reach of children and must close and latch on their own.
If you are with a child or children around a pool, you should know CPR and other life saving techniques in case there is an incident.
If your children are going in a boat with you or friends make sure they are wearing a certified safety jacket or life vest.
There are many more steps you can take to protect your child in and around water. Please check with the American Red Cross. Not only do they offer swimming lessons for every age, but they teach general water safety classes as well as CPR.
Please take this seriously so you do not face the sad time that my dad and his family did the day the police knocked on their door.