ATLANTA - (July 3, 2012) - Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Safe Kids Georgia encourage everyone to take extra precautions around bodies of water, such as lakes and rivers, where children are playing— especially as recreational traffic increases during the summer months. Children’s also applauds Governor Deal for his commitment to lowering the state’s legal blood alcohol levels for boating. Lakes, rivers and oceans can be dangerous, but the single most effective way to prevent boating-related drowning is to wear a life jacket. The U.S. Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board recommend that children under age 13 wear a life jacket while on a boat, raft, or while playing in or around a body of water.
Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional death of children age 14 and under, taking the lives of more than 700 children each year. Children playing in or near smaller bodies of water, such as wading pools, bathtubs, buckets, toilets, spas and hot tubs should always be supervised. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Safe Kids Georgia encourage parents to become “Water Watchers” this summer. Although many parents are nearby when their children are in or around the water, most do not devote 100 percent of their attention to supervising playtime. Research by Johnson & Johnson showed that 88 percent of children who drowned were under adult supervision and that parents are overconfident about their children’s safety and abilities around water. Because drowning can occur silently and in a matter of seconds, at least one parent or adult should always be a completely focused “Water Watcher,” dedicated to monitoring children playing in the water.
In addition to constant supervision, parents should also keep in mind the following water safety tips:
- Practice “touch supervision” by keeping children within reasonable reach at all times. It is especially vital to keep children in baby bath seats and rings within arm's reach. Because drownings often occur silently, “touch supervision” can save lives.
- Enroll your children in swimming lessons around age 4, but do not assume swimming lessons make your child “drownproof.” There is no substitute for active supervision.
- Tell children never to run, push or jump on others around water.
- Eliminate all potential drowning hazards such as empty buckets, large containers and wading pools. Keep toilet lids shut and use toilet locks.
- Make sure children swim only in designated safe areas of rivers, lakes and oceans.
- Outfit children in a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal safety device around oceans, rivers, lakes or when participating in water sports. “Water wings” or inflatable tubes do not replace life jackets.
- Keep rescue equipment, a telephone and emergency numbers by the pool.
- Teach children to never dive into a river, lake, ocean or body of water less than nine feet deep.
- If you have a pool or spa, or if your child visits a home that has a pool or spa, it should be surrounded on all four sides by a fence at least 4 feet high with gates that close and latch automatically. Studies estimate that this type of isolation fencing could prevent 50 percent to 90 percent of child drownings in residential pools. A pool or spa with a single drain should be equipped with an anti-entrapment drain cover and a safety vacuum release system to prevent children from being caught in the suction of the drain. The powerful suction forces can trap a child underwater or cause internal injuries.
- Do not leave toys in or near the pool, where they could attract unsupervised children. For extra protection, consider a pool alarm and alarms on the doors, windows and gates leading to the pool.
- Remember: inflatable swimming aids, such as “water wings,” are not flotation devices and do not prevent drowning.
- Ensure your child’s life jacket fits properly. For tips on choosing the right life jacket, click here.