Sheriff Mancuso Advises Parents on Water Safety for Kids
When the weather warms up, everyone turns to beaches, pools and lakes to beat the Louisiana heat. But water can also be a dangerous place for children. Nearly 1,000 kids die each year due to drowning, and for people between the ages of 5 and 24, drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death.
Sheriff Mancuso reminds parents that these incidents don’t just happen when a child fall into a pool; bathtubs, buckets, toilets and hot tubs present drowning dangers as well.
“Young children are especially vulnerable because a child can drown in less than two inches of water,” Sheriff Mancuso said.
Sheriff Mancuso encourages parents to review the following safety tips before they hit the water this summer:
- Never leave a child alone near water: on the beach, at a pool, or in the bathtub. If you must leave, take your child with you.
- Enroll children over age three in swimming lessons taught by qualified instructors. But keep in mind that lessons don’t make your child “drown-proof.”
- Always follow posted safety precautions when visiting water parks and beaches.
- If you’re visiting a public pool, keep an eye on your kids. Lifeguards aren’t babysitters.
- Use “touch supervision.” This means an adult is never more than an arm’s length away, or is able to touch the child at all times.
- Teach your children these four key swimming rules:
- Always swim with a buddy.
- Don’t dive into unknown bodies of water. Jump feet first to avoid hitting your head on a shallow bottom.
- Don’t push or jump on others.
- Be prepared for an emergency.
- Remember that air-filled rafts, floaties, rings and toys, as well as styrofoam noodles are not safety devices.
- Always use approved personal flotation devices (life jackets).
- Don’t underestimate the power of water. Even rivers and lakes can have undertows.
- Don’t allow kids to swim in large waves or undertows, and tell them never to stand with their back to the water because a sudden wave can easily knock a child over.
- Teach kids that if they’re caught in a rip current or undertow, they should swim parallel to the shore or should tread water and call for a lifeguard’s help.
- If the weather turns bad (especially if there’s lightning), they should get out of the water immediately. Let them know, too, that they should contact the lifeguard or an adult if there’s an emergency.
- Always have a first-aid kit and emergency phone contacts handy. Parents should be trained in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).
- After swimming, keep your pool gates locked and teach your child to stay away from water without your supervision. All toys and attractions should be removed from areas of water after each use so children aren’t tempted.
- If you have an above-ground pool, it’s wise to always lock or remove the ladder when the pool is not in use.
What to Do in an Emergency
- Seconds count when it comes to water emergencies, so take a cell phone with you when you’re watching kids during water play. Programming 911 or your local emergency center will also save additional seconds. If you receive a call while supervising kids, keep your conversation brief to prevent being distracted.
- Whenever a child is missing, always check the water first. Seconds count as survival depends on a quick rescue and restarting breathing as soon as possible.
- If you find a child in the water, immediately get the child out while calling loudly for help. If someone else is available, have them call 911. Check to ensure the child’s air passages are clear. If the child is not breathing, immediately start CPR as necessary.
- Do five cycles of rescue breathing and chest compressions, which takes about two minutes. If the child is still not breathing, dial 911 to get help if someone hasn’t already called. Continue giving CPR.
- If the child does start breathing, lie the child on his or her side. (This helps keep the airway open and allows fluids to drain so that the child doesn’t choke.) Also, dial the emergency number and follow any instructions that the emergency operators provide.
- If you think the child may have suffered a neck injury, such as with diving, then keep the child on his or her back and brace the neck and shoulders with your hands and forearms, until emergency help arrives. Don’t let the child move. Speak in calm tones to keep the child comforted. Continue to watch for adequate breathing.
Pools and beaches are great sources of fun and relaxation during the hot summer months.
“Everyone can enjoy being in the water more knowing they have taken the proper precautions and are practicing these safety guidelines,” Sheriff Mancuso says.
Be careful and stay safe out there during these summer months!!!