CHILDREN AND WATER SAFETY
Drowning is a major cause of death for children.
The surest way to prevent children drowning is to supervise them at all
times when they are in or near the water.
Child drownings can best be prevented by following the three Steps to
- Step One: Spot The Hazard
- Step Two: Assess the Risk
- Step Three: Make Changes Quickly
Step One: Spot the Hazard
In looking for hazards which could lead to the drowning of a child follow
the basic strategy for spotting hazards:
- Look for the accident about to happen; identify all water hazards
in the house.
- Don't ignore anything that may seem even slightly dangerous.
- Whenever a child is near water, ask yourself, "Is there a safer
- Could anything that contains water cause a child to drown?
- Are you or others behaving in a way that could lead to a child drowning?
Think about the following objects that could lead to a drowning in your
- Pools and spas
- Water on pool covers
- Wading pools
- Buckets of water
- Rivers or dams
- Outdoor ponds
Step Two: Assess the Risk
Whenever you Spot a Hazard - STOP AND THINK
- ask yourself:
- Can I get rid of the hazard, or use something safer?
- Can I make it safe by repairing, modifying or isolating it?
- Can I make sure people, especially children, are aware of the problem,
and are given clear rules on how to avoid being harmed?
- Can I provide quality supervision of children to ensure there is
no risk of drowning?
Think about the following strategies for dealing
with water hazards for children:
- Always watch children near water - ALWAYS.
- BEWARE OF DEADLY DISTRACTIONS:
- Telephone calls, either incoming or outgoing
- Something cooking, overheating, etc.
- The laundry you have to remove, etc.
- Another child making a mess, crying, falling, etc.
- Other children fighting, running, etc.
- The other child's
diaper you go to change.
- The other child you have to give a bottle to.
- The other child you are feeding.
- The pet that causes a mess, runs around, gets in a fight
or wants to go out or come in.
- Take the child with you if you answer the phone at bath time.
- Buckets and pails should have a firm lid and be stored up high.
- Indoor spas should have a lockable door and be emptied immediately
after use. Outdoor spas should be fenced the same as swimming pools.
- Empty wading pools immediately after use.
- With empty wading pools, wheelbarrows, pails, etc., turn them over
or stand them up so rainwater can't collect in them.
- Don't allow any
water to stand on a pool cover. A person will slide into the center
and the water will pool, quickly reaching 7-10 inches in depth. Algae
quickly grows on a wet cover, making it extremely slick.
- Even an adult can get caught under
a pool cover, become disoriented and drown.
- Cover post holes or trenches during building.
- Cover outdoor ponds with a fixed grill.
- After heavy rain, check your yard and empty any rain that collects
- Remember that flotation aids are not lifesaving devices. Stay with
your child when swimming in the pool.
- Learn how to give resuscitation or take a refresher course. In an
emergency, take the child to the phone and call the ambulance. Directions
will be given to you over the phone.
- When visiting, ask about any drowning hazards. Many children have
drowned at friends' homes because their parents didn't know there was a
pool, spa or pond on the property.
GET LAZY OR COMPLACENT. It's not
enough that you emptied the wading pool last
time after it rained -- the danger is there again.
CHECKLIST AND GO OVER IT ON A REGULAR BASIS.
If pilots with twenty years of experience can do it
several times a day, you
can do it once a month!
REMEMBER: Telling people about a hazard
is not sufficient on its own. Somebody must take responsibility to reduce or
eliminate it. If nothing else is going to work, you might have to get rid of
the hazardous item altogether.
Make sure you have a list in a prominent
place near your phone showing phone numbers such as:
- EMS (Emergency Medical Services)
- Fire Department
- Poisons Information Service
- Family doctor
- Neighbor with a car
Step Three - Make the Changes Quickly
Once you have spotted a water safety hazard and decided
the best way to deal with it . . . DON'T
Make the changes as soon as possible before somebody does
get harmed. Children can be drowned in water hazards that have been around for
a long time.
If you ignore a hazard long enough, it may seem to go away.
In reality, it becomes even more dangerous because people forget it's there.
People, and especially children, are not safe until they
are separated from the hazard. You will feel safer, others in the house will
be more relaxed, and children will play more safely when hazards have been isolated
This child safety information is based on Kidsafe Australia materials.
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