Tips You Need to Know About Water Safety
Did you know that drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death in children ages 1-4 and the #2 cause of death in children ages 5-9? (cite Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
In 2020, 137 drowning incidents occurred in Arizona. So far in 2023, as of May 30, 2023, there have been 30 total water related incidents, with 16 of those being fatalities (6 pediatric ages and 10 adult ages). (https://childrensafetyzone.com/go/water-related-incident-reports/maricopa-and-pinal-counties-valley-of-the-sun/)
A multi-layered approach to water safety
Any parent would agree that children are very curious, capable, and can slip away in an instant. With the increase in water related incidents, it is so important to have a multi-layered approach to water safety.
A multi-layered approach can include:
· Adult supervision – Designate an adult water watcher. This should be someone that is present, free from the distraction of their cell phone and their favorite story book.
· Pool Fences – Arizona state law requires all pools, in-ground and above-ground, to be entirely enclosed with a wall, barrier, or fence. The barrier should be at least 5 feet tall and have self-closing, self-latching gates that open outward from the pool. (Arizona Revised Statutes 36-1681)
· Door Alarms – Did you know that you can add a chime or a beeping noise alarm to your doors and windows at home? Once these are installed, and they don’t have to be monitored by an alarm company or a monthly subscription fee, they will make a noise each time the door or window is opened to let you know when someone, especially small children, are coming in and out.
· Survival swimming lessons – Each of my daughters have been enrolled in survival swimming lessons since they were 6 months old . Even though lessons are not a replacement for adult supervision, they do add an additional layer of protection against the risk of drowning. We have also found that survival swimming lessons have given my daughters more confidence around water and provided a safe foundation for a lifetime of swimming in our backyard pool.
Know What Drowning Looks Like
Unfortunately, sometimes, even with having a multi-layered approach, water accidents can happen. It is so important to recognize the signs of drowning, especially because we are used to seeing drowning victims on tv that are yelling, screaming, and waving their arms wildly and noticeably.
Adam Katchmarchi, Executive Director of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance, warns, “An actual drowning victim, when they’re in that 20- to 60-second fight for survival, they’re unable to call for help because all of their energy is being used to keep their head above water. A lot of times they’re bobbing up and down, going under and re-emerging and trying to get air, so it’s really difficult for them to call out for help.” (https://www.heart.org/en/news/2018/07/12/drowning-can-be-fast-and-silent-but-it-can-be-prevented-too)
Additional warning signs may include:
- Head tilted back with mouth open or head low in the water with their mouth at the water level
- Eyes closed
- Hair over forehead or eyes
- Trying to roll over on their back but appearing to climb an invisible ladder
- Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making any progress
What to do in a drowning emergency
If a drowning emergency should occur, “every second makes a difference,” said Dr. Vinay Nadkarni, a critical care expert at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
It is important to call 9-1-1 immediately and get the victim out of the water as quickly as possible if you can do so safely.
If the drowning person is still conscious, they are going to be in a panic and it is very likely they will claw at you and try to climb on top of you to get to the surface of the water. If unstable or unprepared for this, you may be pulled under water as well. In this instance, if you have something that you are able to reach or throw to them, like a floating ring or life vest, this may be a better option.
If the drowning person is unconscious and you are able to safely get them out of the water, begin CPR by providing chest compressions, rescue breaths, and incorporating an AED while you wait for first responders to arrive.
‘Safety Nick’, as he is affectionately known, is the owner and operator of Home Hazard Prevention, LLC (HHP). As a professional firefighter in the Valley since 2005 with an extensive background in responding to and preventing emergencies, Nick felt that it was time to help the citizens of Maricopa and Pinal Counties learn how to be safe and protect their loved ones in a proactive manner. In 2012, HHP was launched. With the support of his wonderful (and understanding!) wife and two beautiful children, Nick works tireless hours, not only to help save your family’s lives, as a firefighter and a community safety expert, but also to be able to spend quality time with his family. Nick moved to Arizona over 20 years ago and enjoys exploring our great state with his family.
Be sure to contact Home Hazard Prevention for any of your family or business safety needs. From mobile CPR training to car seat education to infant safety (and much more!) HHP is here to help! Remember, a complete safety program does not have to be expensive or time-consuming. There is no one more qualified than a group of professional firefighters to keep your family safe! (480) 448-0266 or Nick@HomeHazardPrevention.com
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