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Preventing Children From Drowning in Hotel Swimming Pools

Is it possible to drown-proof your child?

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With summer comes swimming pools, water sports and, unfortunately, a greatly increased risk of drowning. Before traveling to a hotel or resort with a swimming pool, take some time to read over these facts and safety tips about drowning.

Drownings Are Quick and Silent:
  • Children don't make noise as they go underwater -- they sink quietly
  • Children under the water lose consciousness in two minutes
  • Brain damage occurs at five minutes
  • Drownings sometimes occur when adults are supervising; even when the adults are in the water with the children.
Who Is at Risk to Drown:
  • Since 1990, drowning has been the second leading cause of unintentional injury death among children in the United States.
  • For each drowning death, there are estimated to be as many as 4 near-drownings, many of which result in permanent brain damage.
  • Toddlers and adolescent males are statistically at the greatest risk of drowning. After 1 year old, boys have a higher risk of drowning than girls.
  • Drownings increase in warmer months as swimming pools are opened and children have more access to water.
  • Teaching your child to swim does not make him/her "drown-proof."
Tips on Preventing Drowning (For All Ages):
  • Avoid swimming after dark.
  • Avoid using alcohol or drugs prior to swimming or supervising swimmers.
  • Don't let young children (or those who can't swim well) use inflatable rafts in water that is above their waists.
  • Never run, push, or jump on others around water. Teach children the same.
  • Learn how to swim, and teach children to swim after age 4.
Tips on Preventing Drowning (Birth to 4 Years Old):
  • Never leave children unattended in or near the swimming pool, even for a moment. Don't leave them in a flotation device or under the supervision of another young child. Stay within an arm's length or touching your children at all times.
  • When supervising children in a swimming pool, don't allow yourself to be distracted by conversation or other activities. Keep your attention on them at all times.
  • You (or whoever is supervising children in and around water) should know how to swim, how to perform CPR, and where the nearest phone and life preservers are in case of an emergency.
  • If your child will be in a child care program, find out what water activities they will participate in. Ask about child-staff ratio, supervision, and CPR training.
  • Air-filled flotation devices like water wings are fine in the swimming pool. But if you are participating in water sports or near an open body of water, use a Coast Guard-approved life preserver instead.
Tips on Preventing Drowning (5 to 12 Years Old):
  • Teach them how to swim.
  • Remember that swimming lessons do not drown-proof your children.
  • Teach them never to swim alone; they should use the buddy system, and have adult supervision.
  • Teach them to always enter a new swimming pool area feet first. Teach them to find out (or ask you) the depth of the pool, and check for obstacles, before jumping in.
Tips on Preventing Drowning (13 to 19 Years Old)
Teach them everything that 5 to 12 year olds are taught, PLUS:
  • Teach them the dangers of mixing swimming with drugs and/or alcohol consumption.
  • Remember that boys in this age group are at much higher risk than girls, so take extra care to teach them safety.
  • Teach them CPR, or find a class for them to take.
Sources:
Water Safety (American Academy of Pediatrics)
Drowning Prevention Strategies (National Children's Center)
Leading Cause of Death Reports (National Center for Injury Prevention and Control)
Water Safety Checklist for Kids (PDF) (Safe Kids)
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