Do you have big plans for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend? Thinking about grabbing your gang and hitting the pool, beach or water park? You certainly are not alone. Many families are planning water-related fun for Memorial Day Weekend to kick off summer — but they need to make water safety a part of those plans, as well.
Sadly, every year communities across the country are impacted by drowning or near-drowning incidents and Cleveland is no different. Water-related accidents can happen fast and parents need to be aware of what they can do to keep kids safer around water. Pools and beaches are usually even more crowded than usual during the summer holiday weekends, so these safety considerations are more important than ever.
So what do parents need to know when it comes to water safety?
First, the Facts
Drowning is the leading cause of injury death to children ages one to four — and the second leading cause of injury death for children ages one to 14, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition to the drownings reported, many children also suffer other water-related injuries each summer. This is a topic that every family needs to be aware of.
What does drowning look like? What are the warning signs?
- Drowning happens quickly. A child can drown in as little as one inch of water and in as little time as 20 seconds.
- Often, adults are around when a child is drowning but they are unaware of what is happening.
- Drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event. The waving, splashing, and yelling that we see on television is rarely seen in real life. You will not see screaming kids flailing their arms! Constant supervision is important so you notice a child whose face has gone under water or is struggling. If they are taking on water, they WILL NOT be able to shout out for help.
- Look for these other signs of drowning when persons are in the water:
- Head low in the water, mouth at water level
- Head tilted back with mouth open
- Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
- Eyes closed
- Not using legs — vertical
- Hyperventilating or gasping
- Trying to roll over on the back
What do families need to know when it comes to being safer around the water?
- Any time kids are around water, designate a “water watcher” who will avoid cell phones, conversations, magazines and anything else that might distract the adult from watching swimming children EVERY single second. Many children who drown are supervised.
- Realize that floaties, noodles and plastic inner tubes do NOT protect against drowning. They are created as water toys, not life-saving devices. Life jackets should be designated as U.S. Coast Guard-approved.
- Get swim lessons for yourself or any other caregiver who cannot swim or is afraid of water.
- The American Red Cross says that the number one thing that parents can do to keep kids safer around water is to enroll them in swim lessons.
What other local resources are available to educate kids about water safety?
Goldfish Swim School has a Water Safety Program that it brings to local schools, day care centers, summer camps and community groups to educate kids and families about water safety basics. Contact a Goldfish Swim School branch to learn more or to schedule a water safety presentation.
Sonali Morris is the owner of Goldfish Swim School Cleveland East Side and Goldfish Swim School Fairview Park. Goldfish Swim School provides swim instruction to children ages 4 months to 12 years in a unique setting with highly trained instructors, small class sizes (max 4:1 student-teacher ratio), shiver-free 90-degree pools, and a state-of-the-art water purification system. Visit the website for more information: goldfishswimschool.com. Originally published in 2017.