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Posted on: August 7, 2019

Water Wisdom: Prevent Drowning

Family swimming

It can happen in an instant, swiftly and silently.

That’s what one mother recalls about her young son slipping underwater at a pool. In a recent drowning prevention video from the City of Bellevue, she urges others to understand just how profoundly an instant can change your life forever. Drowning is a leading cause of death among children ages 1 to 4.

We urge you to be safe and help keep others safe in or around water. The National Drowning Prevention Alliance estimates that 3,500 people will die as a result of drowning this year in the U.S. Whether you are at a swimming pool or the beach, water safety is essential. 

A few key reminders:

  • Keep a close eye on children and make sure they are wearing life jackets if they are playing in or near the water. Remember: Water wings and floaty toys are NOT substitutes for a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device
  • Don’t get distracted if you are monitoring children near water – it’s not a good time to check your phone or read a book. The majority of child drownings happen when at least one adult is present. Being there isn’t enough. You need to pay attention.
  • Consider lessons for children or adults who do not know how to swim, covering basics such as treading water and floating. Explain that pools and open water (lakes, rivers, ocean, etc.) are different – even strong swimmers can be pulled below the surface by undertow, currents or unexpected obstacles. 
  • Never swim alone. The buddy system is important for adults as well as for children. When children are in the water, an adult should be within arm’s reach of them.
  • Learn CPR and basic water rescue skills so you can intervene if someone is in distress. Sign older children and teens up for CPR training. It’s a skill that will last a lifetime.
  • If you have a pool at or near your home, check that the barriers around it are adequate. There should be a fence around the pool, with nothing nearby that someone could hop up on to get over it. Gates should be self-closing and self-latching. 
  • If you have a plastic or inflatable pool in the backyard, empty it immediately after use. Do not leave even a small pool unattended where a child could access it.

For more information, check out the following resources:

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