This week is National Drowning Prevention week and as an Instructor Trainer with the Lifesaving Society of Canada and former trainer with the Canadian Red Cross I cannot stress enough that EVERY SINGLE DAY you should be water wise and aware!
Drownings happen, they happen more often than we would like and it’s generally when we least expect them to happen. Did you know, according to the Lifesaving Society’s Drowning Fact Sheet, that drowning is the second leading cause of preventable death for children under 10 years of age.
Who is most at risk for drowning? Toddlers and young children are most at risk followed by men between the ages of 18 and 34. Young children do not have the physical ability for swimming nor do they mental ability to understand the dangers of water. They are curious, the water looks interesting or fun and before you know it an emergency has happened. I call it an emergency and not an accident because accidents are something that cannot be prevented. Drownings can be prevented. In my opinion there is no reason for a drowning to ever occur.
It comes down to the Lifesaving Society’s message “IF YOU ARE NOT WITHIN ARMS REACH YOU HAVE GONE TOO FAR”, it’s a simple message that needs to be taken more seriously. I have seen many times parents who quickly leave their child by the pools edge to grab a lifejacket, favourite toy or a towel to wipe the chlorine away from their eyes. It takes a split second. I have jumped into a pool to quickly grab a curious toddler more times than I can count. If the child would have been within arms reach of an adult I would not of had to jump in for the rescue.
Teach your child a few simple rules when around the water, whether it’s the local wading pool, the bathtub, cottage or community centre. Start from a young age, before they are even able to communicate with you so it becomes second nature to them. Repeat, repeat, repeat! Repetition is key to assisting your child to remember the rules of the water. Then remember Monkey See, Monkey Do! Display water safe behaviour that you would like your child to mimic.
1. Stop! Look! Listen! They STOP before entering the water. LOOK around to see if there are any hazards around the water and to make sure you, or another responsibility adult who they know, are right there within arms reach. Then LISTEN for the adult to tell them they are able to enter the water. Also make sure that the adult always enters the water first, protecting the child from any water drop offs or deep water levels. You may also create actions of having your child STOP with their hand up making a stop sign. LOOK, make a motion of looking through binoculars or gazing around the water. LISTEN, place your hands to your ears to show that you are listening for your name and to be told its safe to enter.
2. Stop! Look! Go Slow! With the same actions as above for the STOP and the LOOK, teach your child to always enter the water SLOWLY. Whether the water environment you are in is familiar or not conditions may have changed since the last time you entered.
3. WITHIN ARMS REACH! Your child should understand this concept so well that if you happen to forget they should remind you or follow you out of the water.
The next time you go for a family swim and are splashing around with your loved ones please remember that even though its a fun activity its a dangerous place to be. Be safe and water wise!
Amanda is mom to Dominic, 2 months, and can be found blogging about life, product reviews & giveaways at Namaste Mommy, PTPA Panel of Moms & Tools for Schools. When not feeding and changing diapers Amanda is busy with her company DeGrace Energetics & Little Lotus.
p.s. Amanda is having a great giveaway on her blog at http://namastemommy.wordpress.com for the PTPA Award Winning Cuddly Wrap It’s a great way to keep your baby close while running after your other children around the water!