Swimming on a hot summer day is a pleasure almost everyone can enjoy–but every year 6,000 Americans die as a result of drowning. And many more thousands are injured from diving, near drowning, and other water-related accidents.
Children are at special risk. Nationwide, accidental drowningswimming and diving is the leading cause of death among children under five years of age. Teaching children to swim and to respect water safety rules may reduce the risk of water accidents, but the single greatest aid a parent has is supervision. By setting strict ground rules for pool use, and enforcing them consistently with your children, many accidents can be avoided.
Remember . . .
- Supervising children in the water means giving them your undivided attention. Invest in a portable phone so you won’t have to leave the pool to answer calls. Lying on a blanket under a beach umbrella is not adequate supervision.
- If you have a backyard pool, make sure it is fenced and has a gate that locks to prevent young children from wandering into the pool area unsupervised.
- If your pool has a slide, make sure there is a minimum depth of five feet of water in the landing area. Only one child should use the slide at a time, and the area should be clear before the next slider has a turn. Slides should be used feet first only, from a sitting position.
Diving is also a fun but dangerous activity. Each year 10,000 Americans suffer spinal cord injuries. Half of these occur among teens and young adults 15 to 24 years old. Water-related activities are the No. 1 cause of spinal cord injuries resulting from sports and recreation.
- Know the depth of the water and plan your dive accordingly.
- If you’re diving into a lake or river, or even off the side of a boat, the only way you can be sure you have a safe diving depth is to jump in feet first to test the water. Submerged rocks, reefs, sandbars or trees can all create hidden obstacles.
- Many divers are injured when a board is tightly sprung and they gain more height than planned before they enter the water. The greater the height of the dive the greater the depth of water required for a safe dive path.
- Other diving accidents occur when aspiring divers try back dives, flips and dives with vertical entries without the proper instruction. Safe diving requires a minimum water depth of 10 to 12 feet. That depth should extend out 16 feet from the tip of the diving board before the bottom of the pool slopes upward.
Should you need emergency care this summer, the Health Alliance Emergency Departments are nearby. Health Alliance hospitals include The Christ Hospital, The University Hospital, The St. Luke Hospitals and The Jewish Hospital.