Officials offer water safety tips - KCTV5

Officials offer water safety tips

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Children can get into trouble in a matter of seconds when around water, so safety officials recommend that parents actively supervise children when they are in or near the water.

"Even if they are floating, they wouldn't be able to reach up and get themselves out of this pool," Mary Jo Klier said as she looked at one above ground pool.

She runs KC Swim Academy, a metro swim academy where the main goal is teaching young children to swim and stay alive. She also teaches rescue floats to babies as young as 6 months old.

Klier said there is nothing she dreads more than the news of a child drowning.

"It breaks my heart. It's a total preventable accident. No child should ever be along around a pool without an adult - you just can't leave them alone," she said.

Pediatric ER Physician Kristi Kinder sees child drownings or close calls all too often and said summertime is a scary time for children.

"We've seen about 20 to 25 drowning or near drowning, submersion events, each year. In the last month we've had six," she said.

Kinder said there are three rules every parent should follow: get your child swim lessons at an early age, make sure a gate with a lock surrounds all pools and learn CPR.

The doctor also recommends that parents make sure their child wears a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket in the water - floaties are no longer considered the best option. She also said parents shouldn't just watch their child in the pool, they should get in the water with them.

"We use the term 'layers of protection' so anybody younger than 5 - make sure you're within arm's reach. So, while it's nice to sit on the side of the pool, you want to be directly in the water with them," Kinder said.

According to Safe Kids Kansas, drowning is the second highest cause of unintentional death for children ages 1 to 4 in both the U.S. and Kansas. From 2000 to 2009, there were 73 unintentional drowning related deaths in Kansans age 14 years and younger. Over half of these deaths occurred to children ages 4 and younger.

"Kids drown quickly and quietly," said Cherie Sage with Safe Kids Kansas. "A drowning child can't cry or shout for help. The most important precaution for parents is active supervision. Simply being near your child is not necessarily supervising."

Safe Kids Kansas offers the following safety tips to keep your children safe around pools and spas this summer:

  • Never leave your child unattended around water, even for a moment. We know it sounds strict, but there is no room for compromise on this one. Stay where you can see, hear and reach kids in water. Infants or toddlers should be within arm's reach of an adult at all times.
  • Put the cell phone away, forget about all the other things you have to do and give young children 100 percent of your attention when they are near or around water. We know it's hard to get everything done without a little multitasking, but this is the time to avoid distractions of any kind. If children are near water, then they should be the only thing on your mind.
  • Empty all tubs, buckets, containers and wading pools immediately after use. Store them upside down and out of children's reach. Small children can drown in as little as one inch of water.
  • When there are several adults present and children are swimming, use the Water Watcher card strategy, which designates an adult as the Water Watcher for a certain amount of time (such as 15-minute periods) to prevent lapses in supervision.
  • Every child is different, so enroll children in swimming lessons when you feel they are ready. Teach them how to tread water, float and stay near the pool's edge when they are first learning to swim, but don't assume swimming lessons make your child immune to drowning. There is no substitute for active supervision.
  • Teach children to swim with a partner, every time. From the start, teach children to never go near or in water without an adult present.
  • Remember that swimming aids such as water wings or noodles are fun toys for kids, but they should never be relied upon for safety and cannot be used in place of a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD).
  • Don't leave toys in or near the pool, where they could attract unsupervised kids.
  • Make sure backyard pools have four-sided fencing that's at least 4 feet high and a self-closing, self-latching gate to prevent a child from wandering into the pool area unsupervised. Consider a pool alarm or gate alarm to alert you if a child wanders into your pool area unsupervised.
  • Educate your children about the dangers of drain entanglement and entrapment, and teach them to never play or swim near drains or suction outlets.
  • If you do have pool or spa drains, protective measures include anti-entrapment drain covers, and a safety vacuum release system to automatically release suction and shut down the pump should entrapment occur.
  • Keep rescue equipment, a phone and emergency numbers by the pool.
  • Parents have a million things to do, but learning CPR should be on the top of the list. It will give you tremendous peace of mind, and the more peace of mind you have as a parent, the better. Local hospitals, fire departments and recreation departments offer CPR training.

Even a near-drowning incident can have lifelong consequences. Kids who survive a near-drowning may have brain damage, and after four to six minutes underwater, the damage is usually irreversible.

Although 90 percent of parents say they supervise their children while swimming, many acknowledge that they engage in other distracting activities at the same time, including talking, eating, reading or taking care of another child. Remember, the most effective thing you can do to keep your kids safe around water is give them your undivided attention.

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