By Jamie Hoover, Safe Kids Southwest Florida
Water safety starts with acknowledging that drowning can happen to any family. Understanding this is important in keeping our children safe. Keeping our children safe takes preparation and foresight.
“I am prepared for the worst, but hope for the best.” – Benjamin Disraeli
When our community accepts and acts on these three pieces of information, we’re getting somewhere with our water safety mission: 1. Drowning is the leading cause of death in children ages 1 to 4, and swimming pools are the most common place for these incidences. 2. No single safety measure is 100 percent reliable. 3. Drowning is 100 percent preventable.
Parents are super heroes in their own right, but unfortunately we can’t travel at the speed of light, nor can we see through walls or have supersonic hearing. As much as we may wish we had these powers or abilities, we don’t. So when we think we will never lose sight of our child, that they could never wander off without us knowing or if we will always be there just in time to help them out of trouble, we are mistaken. The reality is we hold no super powers, no hulk-like strength or go-go-gadget arms. Every well-meaning parent will have their back turned just for a second or their child will learn a brand new skill one day and that is the day that child wanders out to the pool.
Layers of protection enhance our ability to provide the safest environment for our children. Fences, door alarms, pool covers, drain covers, life jackets and door locks, just to name a few. These layers buy us time; when multiple layers of protection are installed and are used correctly, they slowdown that eager child from gaining access to the water. We hope it gives us enough time for us to get to them.
One layer of protection does reign as the best. Nothing beats undistracted, swim-ready adult supervision. Consider this your front line of your layers of protection. An undistracted adult who is ready to get wet is one of the best forms of water safety. We like to call these adults “Water Watchers.”
We advocate for learning the skills, learning how to swim and how to respond. It is best if the whole family takes swimming lessons to become better swimmers. Infants as young as 6 months old can learn the concept of flip-and-float. Learning CPR is imperative in our ability to correctly respond to an emergency. Time is of the essence. The sooner we provide the proper response, the better.
Every parent seeks to create the safest environment for their children, and they don’t have to do it alone. Local resources provide education on how to install layers of protection and how to reach out to professionals to learn how to both respond with CPR skills and how to swim.
Jamie Hoover is the Kohl’s Cares program coordinator and Child Advocacy program coordinator for Lee Health. She writes on behalf of Safe Kids Southwest Florida, a nonprofit coalition of agencies and organizations dedicated to eliminating preventable childhood injuries. Visit safekidsswfl.org.