Warm weather is here and it won’t be much longer before we’re back in the heat of summer. That’s why May is National Water Safety Month – an entire month dedicated to informing the public about how to enjoy all forms of aquatic activities, from home pools and spas, to water parks and water recreation facilities, safely.
Coordinated by the Association of Pool & Space Professionals, National Water Safety Month empathizes the importance of being aware of how quickly a drowning incident can occur. Each year, approximately 3,500 people die from drowning; 25 percent of these incidents involve children younger than the age of 14.
To make matters worse, ethnically diverse communities suffer from a drowning rate nearly three times the current national average. Research by the USA Swimming Foundation and the University of Memphis found that 70 percent of African-American children and 60 percent of Hispanic children are unable to swim, putting them at extreme risk of drowning while pools are open.
Fortunately, the USA Swimming Foundation understands the importance of water safety and had pledged to provide one million swim lessons to children through its local partners by the end of 2017.
“Learning to swim is the surest way to being safer in the water,” said Debbie Hesse, USA Swimming Foundation Executive Director. “In the U.S., 10 people drown a day but drownings are preventable. Educating the public with some helpful tips from our ambassadors will help adults and children to be safer in and around the water.”
The following are some water safety tips provided by the International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISOF) to help parents and caregivers use good judgment when children are nearby water:
- Appoint a designated watcher to monitor children during social gatherings at or near pools;
- Equip doors and windows that exit to a pool area with alarms;
- Install a poolside phone, preferably a cordless model, with emergency numbers programmed into speed-dial;
- Post CPR instructions and learn the procedures;
- Keep rescue equipment poolside. Don’t wait for the paramedics to arrive because you will lose valuable lifesaving seconds. Four to six minutes without oxygen can cause permanent brain damage or death;
- Keep a first aid kit at poolside;
- Install four-sided isolation fencing, at least five feet high, equipped with self-closing and selflatching gates, that completely surrounds the pool and prevents direct access from the house and yard;
- Maintain constant visual contact with children in a pool or pool area. If a child is missing, check the pool first; seconds count in preventing death or disability.
For more information on National Water Safety Month, visit the campaign’s website at www.NationalWaterSafetyMonth.org.