So far it hasn’t exactly felt like summer. It has been cold and rainy but it still feels good to get out. My kids love the beach and are both total water rats which makes me so nervous. We spend a lot of time by the river or the lake even though it hasn’t exactly been beach weather. We also own a water table and have a hot tub. I think I’m cautious around water but I always worry. Drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental death. It only takes a couple of minutes for a child to drown. There have already been several drowning deaths this season in Canada. Last week a 24-year-old former UBC football star drowned in the Fraser River and in the last two weeks there have been three separate drowning incidents of children in northern Sask. Ontario Provincial Police say a 47-year-old Sudbury man is dead after drowning in a lake last Monday. It can happen anywhere and to anyone. Water is incredibly powerful and can be scary. It deserves respect.
However, that doesn’t mean stop taking your children to the beach or avoid canoe rides. A lot of fun can be had but don’t let your guard down. According to experts one of the biggest mistakes a caregiver or parent can make is a slight slip in supervision. It is easy when there are a lot of people around to think someone else is watching the children. Or if there is a lifeguard on duty, it is easy to stop being cautious. But drowning can be easy to miss. In movies, when someone is drowning it is a dramatic event with a lot screaming and waving of the arms. However, in real life, it is very quiet. When a child starts to drown, they sink quietly.
Here are some tips I’ve collected in the last couple years.
1. Supervision is key. It sounds obvious but it is so important to have one adult watching one child (If it is possible) and if that adult needs to leave or do something else, tag out and tag someone in. Also, supervising adults need to be sober.
2. Swimming lessons. Again, another obvious one but so important.
3. Don’t trust floaties and water wings.
4. Wear a lifejacket and buy a proper fitting one.
5. Learn CPR. Your skills could save a life in the time it takes for paramedics to arrive.
6. Lock up the pool or hot tub. We installed buckles on our hot tub lid that are very difficult to undo so our children won’t be able to lift the lid and get inside without our knowledge. Pools need proper fencing with locks on the gates and any door going outside to the pool area also needs a lock that children can’t undo. This all may sound scary but you can have fun in the water and be safe. The worst part of my job is reporting on the death of a child. So let’s all have fun and be extra careful around water this summer.