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Preventing Drowning

Anne Cavicchi


Did you know that drowning is the second most common cause of death from injury for children aged 1 to 4 years old? Children under four are at risk beause they move very quickly but are not always aware of the dangers around them. As parents, it is our job to minimize the dangers.

Drowning hazzards in and around the home account for about 50% of all toddler drownings (according to the Canadian Red Cross Water Safety Service). The peak age for toddler drownings is age 3 for boys and two for girls. 55% of infant drownings occur in the bathtub, while 30% of toddler drownings occur in backyard swimming pools.

A young child can drown in as little as 2 1/2 inches of water. For every toddler that drowns, six to 10 almost drown. Near drownings can result in permanent brain damage. Most of these drownings or near drownings are very preventable.

In your home: Empty water from wading pools, buckets, and baths immediately after useNever leave a baby or young child alone in the bath for even a moment. Keep toilet lids down too -- better yet, get a toilet seat lock.Young children must be watched constantly near pools, drainage ditches, ponds, docks and beaches.Learn first aid, including rescue breathing (for more info on infant CPR, click here)

Babies under one year of age may enjoy the water, but they really do not have the physical strength and coordination to swim. When your child is older, look for swimming instruction that teach a progression of water skills and safety. Do remember though that swimming lessons will not 'drown-proof' your child.

Since home swimming pools create a very big and real hazzard, follow these steps to minimize the risks: Completely enclose outdoor pools on all sides. Make sure that the gate is self closing and latching. Install a pool side telephone and rescue aidsGet trained in first aid and CPRNever leave your children unattended in or around the pool, not even for a moment.

Hot tubs and children also don't mix. Ensure that your hot tub is covered very securly when not in use. In addition to the dangers of drowning, hot tubs pose other risks to children. The water temperature may be too high for them to tolerate -- temperatures over 100 degrees may increase a childs heartrate to dangerous levels.

Water play can be great fun -- please play safe!

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