MCFRS News Release
Close Supervision Key to Safety Around Water
Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death among children ages 1 to 4 and it’s the third leading cause of death among children
Montgomery County, MD - - - As summer arrives and pools are opening, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue officials are urging residents to take proper precautions around the water and to diligently supervise children when they are around any water sources. Whether you’re a seasoned swimmer or just learning how to swim, many water-related injuries can be avoided by knowing what to do and how to stay safe. The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service and the Department of Recreation are joining forces to promote the importance of water safety throughout the summer. Residents are urged to review these water safety tips to increase safety around the water:
- Be attentive. Research from the National Safe Kid Campaign shows that nearly 9 out of 10 children between the ages of 1 and 14 who drowned were under supervision when they died. How is this possible? Distractions – cell phones, ipads, reading materials, chores and socializing needs to be resisted when you are on “lifeguard duty” watching your child. Be engaged and committed to watching them constantly. The study defined supervision as being in someone’s care, not necessarily in direct line of sight.
- Learn to swim and never swim alone. One of the best things you can do to stay safe around the water is to learn to swim and to always swim with a buddy. Make sure they know how to tread water, float on their backs and get to the edge of the pool and hang on. Even the most experienced swimmers can become tired or get muscle cramps which might make it difficult to get out of the water safely.
- Teaching your child how to swim does not mean that your child is “drown-proof.” If you have a pool or are visiting a pool, protect your children by supervising them at all times and being prepared in case of an emergency. Consider designating a adult “water watcher” when children are participating in water activities.
- Seconds count when it comes to water emergencies. Keep a phone (cell or cordless) by the pool or nearby when engaged in recreational water activities so that you can call 9-1-1 in an emergency.
- Learn life-saving skills. Know how to prevent, recognize and respond to emergencies. In the time it might take paramedics to arrive, your CPR skills could make a difference in saving someone’s life.
- Avoid relying on inflatable swimming aids such as “floaties” and “noodles” to keep your child safe. These toys are not designed to keep your child safe, can deflate or shift quickly and should never be used as a substitute for supervision. Use only Coast Guard approved flotation devices that your swimmer properly.
- Lifeguards are an important safety feature but are NOT intended to replace the close supervision of parents or caregivers. Remember, lifeguards are not babysitters.
- Maintain constant supervision of children around water (bathtubs, pools, ornamental backyard ponds, etc.). Never leave a child unattended in the water or pool area. Don't be distracted by phone calls, chores or conversations. If you leave the pool area, take the child with you. Remember: swim lessons are no substitute for the supervision of children. Formal swimming lessons can help protect young swimmers around the water however constant adult supervision is critical.
- Living dangers. Diving injuries can cause permanent spinal damage, injuries and even death. Protect yourself by diving only in designated areas that are known to be safe, such as the deep end, of a supervised pool.
- Pay attention to local weather conditions and forecasts. Stop swimming at the first indication of bad weather.
- Know Your Limits. Watch for the “dangerous too’s” . . . too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much strenuous activity.
- Water and alcohol don’t mix. Each year, up to half of all adult drownings are linked to alcohol use.