Summer is quickly approaching, and adventure is around every corner with all the rivers, lakes, waterfalls, and pools in the Poconos! While the water is fun, it is important to remember that it can also be dangerous. Drowning is the leading cause of death for children 1 to 4 years old and is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death for children from 5 to 19 years old. Keep your little adventurers safe with some of these water safety tips from the pros.
Teach children the habit of asking first, each and every time, before getting into any body of water. Remind them that an adult should always be watching. Reinforcing this Golden Rule will reduce the likelihood of your child entering the water without supervision.
Actively supervise your children around pools and natural bodies of water. Ensure they know and respect all pool rules. Stay alert and do not consume alcohol. The best way to actively watch your kids is to get in there and play with them! Make memories while staying safe and having fun!
If you must step away, designate one person to watch your children. Asking a group to keep an eye on the kids can lead to no one watching them. Each person can easily assume another adult is supervising, and then no one winds up watching. Asking one person directly makes he or she responsible for the task. In turn, if a fellow parent asks your group to keep an eye out for his or her kids, share this tip and take the initiative to keep them safe! It takes a village, after all.
REACH, THROW, DON’T GO!
Remember, you may have been a champion swimmer in high school, but even a small child can be hard to manage in the water during an emergency situation. Teach kids this catchy saying: “Reach, Throw, Don’t Go!” Look around and see what you could use to reach – a towel, a noodle, a stick, or anything that could reach the struggling swimmer and pull him or her to safety. If there isn’t anything that reaches, throw something to keep the swimmer buoyant, like a tube, a raft, or anything that floats.
When in doubt, wear a Coast Guard approved personal floatation device (PFD). Puddle jumpers are a great alternative to life vests. Be sure the PFD is the proper fit based on the child’s height and weight. Like Goldilocks, find a life vest that is not too big, not too small, but fits juuust right. Floaties are not a replacement for adult supervision.
With summer coming, it’s a good idea to brush up on your First Aid and CPR skills. Enroll your children in a swim lesson program. Double check the safety of your backyard pool. Make sure you have a fully stocked First Aid kit and your lifejackets are in good condition. Review your emergency plans and these safety tips with your friends and families. Channel your inner mermaids, and have fun!
By: Erika Huber
Senior Aquatics Director
Pocono Family YMCA