Although New York reports far fewer drownings than most states, too many children and adults still lose their lives this way every year. Currently, there are more than 7,400 public pools and 1,300 public beaches available for swimmers throughout this state. To help prevent avoidable drownings and illnesses, state and local authorities regularly gather statistics on all water-related injuries, diseases and deaths.
Special data are also recorded indicating whether the injured party required resuscitation, a trip to a hospital — or developed an illness due to water quality issues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that every year, over 3,500 unintentional drownings occur across America. Most of the victims (80%) are teens and young adult males – and only a small percentage of them are due to boating. Roughly 20% of all annual drowning deaths involve children age 14 and younger.
Of course, many drownings don’t happen at public beaches or in private or public swimming pools – they occur in people’s home bathtubs, hot tubs, hotels, spas, schools and health clubs.
Here are some safety tips that can help prevent drowning accidents in various locations. Many of them also apply while carefully monitoring children swimming at the beach.
Ways to prevent children and adults from suffering injuries or deaths in local swimming pools
Hire adequate lifeguards. If you’re having a pool party at home, hire lifeguards and ask other parents to help you keep the children safe. Also, remind family and friends that most children are old enough to begin swimming lessons by age four – if not sooner. It’s often wise to either personally teach your children to swim (if qualified to do so) — or to at least be present during lessons to help them remain calm;
At least one adult should always be present to watch swimming children. This person should spend all their time watching the pool and not talking on a cell phone, reading or visiting with others. Even older teenagers should never be allowed to swim together without adult supervision. Their playful activities can easily prevent them from hearing a friend in distress. Also, before letting a child swim at a friend’s house, ask one of the parents if they’ll be present in the pool area during that activity;
Do not keep multiple toys of any kind scattered around a pool. Visitors or your own family members can easily trip over them or fall into the water. Drinking containers and other goods made of glass should be kept away from all pool areas;
Keep a fully charged cell phone – for emergencies only – out by the pool with you. If an emergency develops, you’ll need to call for help right away;
Have all adults in your family take CPR classes. This can help you save lives when you’re away from home, too;
Keep appropriate safety equipment in the pool area. Also, only let small children use flotation devices when their own parents are watching them. Kids can still drown if they fall forward while wearing some of those items;
Do not maintain a noisy waterfall in the pool area – and avoid playing loud music. You must be able to listen for the faint sounds of someone struggling in the water – while also carefully surveying all parts of the pool;
Do not allow children or adults to run around the pool area – or play roughly in or out of the water;
Use proper tanning lotions and make sure everyone remains properly hydrated;
Have all pool drains checked regularly. When these malfunction, children can get trapped in or near them and drown. Have a pool cleaner visit regularly who also checks the various pool chemical balances;
Always check all pool gates, fences and locks after each use of the pool area. Children are often fascinated by pools and will try to sneak in and use them if you fail to install proper fencing;
Save up and buy pool covers that fasten securely. When used in conjunction with proper fencing, you’ll be able to prevent serious injuries and deaths.
Tips that can help prevent drowning or related injuries in your home
Remember, infants and small children can drown in just two or three inches of water. Also, when bathing small children in a sink or tub, never leave them unattended. By the time you return from answering your phone or letting someone in the front door, your child may have drowned (after simply falling forward) in two or three inches of water;
Always test the water temperature before placing a small child in a sink or tub. Too many children suffer scalding burns when parents wrongfully assume that the hot water will be mildly warm;
Never keep drinking glasses or other breakable items in or near the tub. This same rule should also apply to all hair dryers, curling irons or other electrical equipment.
No one should ever use a hot tub alone. It’s far too easy for a very tired or mildly drunk teen or adult to slowly sink below the surface;
Check the hot tub drains and suction areas. Too many young children are pulled beneath the surface and then drown near faulty drains;
Install slip-resistant mats around hot tubs. Slip-and-fall accidents are very common when this simple safety tip isn’t followed;
Since dehydration can occur quickly in a hot tub, don’t allow young children or frail adults to use them. Also, avoid drinking alcohol before or during time in a hot tub;
Proper hot tub maintenance is crucial. Your hot tub must be cleaned and serviced regularly. Keep in mind that people can be electrocuted in some hot tubs, spas and pools that are poorly maintained.
Create water safety rules for your children and always carefully watch over them while they swim or use the family hot tub. While older children can safely bathe alone – ask them to only do so when an adult is home in case of an accident.