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Five ways to reduce risk of drowning

By Mayrav Saar

Behind every “carefree” childhood experience, there is a parent who has anticipated, prepared for and arranged everything.

Summer safety is no exception. Drowning is the fifth-leading cause of unintentional injury death in the United States, with 20% of those involving children. For every childhood drowning, there are four visits to emergency rooms for near-drownings, which can result in lifelong injury, including permanent brain damage.

That doesn’t mean you have to strap Junior to a life preserver, but it does mean educating yourself and planning ahead. Swim lessons are helpful but not enough.

“As we move into the summer months, families will be prepping their pools to offer an oasis from the California heat. Take the time to prep your family about the dangers of drowning and what to do in the case of an emergency. Remember, children drown without a sound,” said Lt. Bob Dunn.

Follow these five steps, and your little cannonball will (safely) have a blast as he makes a huge splash.

1. Know what drowning looks like. In most cases, people who are drowning don’t flail about like they do in the movies. They are generally unable to call out, though their mouths might bob above the surface. On first blush, they might appear to be safely treading water. But if they can’t speak or if their eyes seem glassy, they actually might be drowning.

2. Know where drowning can happen. A child can drown in just 1 inch of water. So inflatable baby pools, bathtubs and even deep buckets that a child could fall into need to be treated with the same caution as the deep end of an Olympic-size pool. If in doubt, stay within an arm’s reach of young children and children who can’t swim.

3. Take a CPR course or refresher course now.

4. Never leave your kids alone in or by the pool. When they are in the pool, an adult who knows child CPR should supervise them and stay at arms’ length the whole time. When they’re not in the pool, put alarms on your doors so you are alerted when they open, and put a net on or gate around your pool – safety trumps aesthetics. Fencing a pool on all sides reduces risk of drowning from unsupervised swimming by more than 80%.

5. Clear the area of pool toys when not in use. Once swim time is over, remove the temptation for children to return to the pool unsupervised. Most drowning deaths among young children occur when parents are nearby, but a child visits the pool alone.

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