Summer is a great opportunity to spend time with family and friends at the beach, lake or pool. Unfortunately, every year approximately 800 children under the age of 14 die due to drowning accidents. Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital and Safe Kids Midlands want to help families protect their children around the water.
According to Safe Kids, among preventable injuries, drowning is the leading cause of death for children 1–4 years old. Children 1–4 years old are more likely to drown in a pool. Children five years and older are more likely to drown in natural water, such as ponds, lakes and rivers.
For every child who drowns, four more are hospitalized for near-drowning. Some children sustain permanent brain damage. These incidents are preventable.
Children’s Hospital offers these tips to help keep children safe this summer:
- Always watch children when they are in or near water
- Don’t be distracted by electronics, reading or talking to others
- Watch children even if they know how to swim
- Designate an adult “Water Watcher” who pledges to supervise children in the water at all times and not to leave the area without designating another adult to watch the children
- Keep a phone near you, but use it only to call for help in an emergency
- If a child is missing, check the water first
- Children and adults should wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets, especially those who can’t swim. Wear life jackets when boating and participating in water sports.
- Learn how to swim out of a rip current
- Teach children never to swim alone and only to swim in designated swimming areas
- Never leave a child unattended near a pool, bathtub, bucket, toilet, puddle, pond or wading pool
- If you have a pool, put a locking fence all the way around it
- Do not leave toys in the pool or beside it
- For extra protection, install a pool alarm, a gate alarm on the fence and an automatic pool cover
Tips for swimming in fresh water
An amoeba commonly found in warm bodies of fresh water such as lakes, rivers, hot springs, under-chlorinated swimming pools and soil can cause a deadly infection. The amoeba ─ Naegleria fowleri ─ is 99 percent fatal, but 100 percent preventable.
The amoeba enters the body through the nose during water activities including tubing, diving and other activities that force water up the nose. The amoeba travels up the nose to the brain and spinal cord, where it attacks brain tissue.
If you choose to swim in water where Naegleria fowleri might live, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that you:
- Hold your nose shut, use nose clips, or keep your head above water
- Avoid putting your head under water in hot springs and other untreated geothermal waters
- Avoid water-related activities in warm fresh water during periods of high water temperatures and low water levels
- Avoid digging in, or stirring up, the sediment while participating in water-related activities in shallow, warm fresh water areas.
The CDC offers recommendations at www.cdc.gov/naegleria.
Enjoy your summer and use these tips to keep your children safe.