According to Safe Kids Worldwide, drowning is the leading cause of unintentional and preventable death in children ages 1-4. Organization data showed children in this age range are more likely to drown in a pool, while children 5 years old and older are more likely to drown in open water, such as a lake, creek or river. Additionally, the risk of drowning in open water increases with age.
Brad Urbanczyk, safety officer for Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, College Station, said whether it’s a backyard pool or the ocean, parents can help ensure their children are protected by following these basic water safety tips:
- Always keep children within an arm’s reach. Constantly pay close attention to a child’s whereabouts if near water, and avoid distractions
- Give children swimming lessons as soon as they are ready, depending on age, physical development and the frequency with which they are expected to be around water.
- Teach children essential water survival skills, such as floating to treading water, staying close to the shore, being able to return to the surface after getting in water over their head, turning in circles in the water to find an exit, and how to properly exit the water.
Mark Carroll, AgriLife Extension specialist and director of the Texas 4-H Conference Center in Brownwood, said the center offers both pool and open water activities, making the teaching of water safety a top priority. “Those swimming in open water should only swim in designated areas and should check water and weather conditions before entering,” he said. “Be vigilant and watch the weather as it is not prudent to swim if rains or thunderstorms are expected. And be aware of your surroundings, including boats, other swimmers and water conditions.”
Carroll also noted one of the best things a parent or guardian can do to help protect a child in the event of a water-related emergency is to learn CPR.
Find CPR classes: https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/cpr/cpr-training/cpr-classes
Through the application of science-based knowledge, AgriLife Extension creates high-quality, relevant continuing education that encourages lasting and effective change.