By Christina Mezzone, DO, FAAP
In 2017, there were 3,709 unintentional drowning fatalities in the United States, of which 424 occurred in children ages 1 to 4, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
After birth defects, drowning is the leading cause of deaths among children ages 1 to 4 and the third leading cause of unintentional injury deaths in ages 5 to 19, the CDC reported. With these startling statistics, the American Academy of Pediatrics has made drowning prevention a top priority this year. The following are some safety steps to take when enjoying the waters this summer:
- All pools should have a fence surrounding all four sides that is at least four feet high, unclimbable and with a self-latching, self-closing gate.
- Pool covers and pool alarms can be additional layers of protection to a fence.
- Keep toys and inflatables out of the pool when not in use.
- Even if there is a lifeguard, assign a "water watcher" to constantly supervise children when they are in the water. The water watcher should not glance at a cell phone or a book during that time.
- Learn CPR.
- Avoid floaties. Use Coast Guard-approved life jackets instead.
- Empty water containers including buckets, coolers, bathtubs and wading pools, after each use.
- Start swimming lessons as soon as your child is ready. Most children by age four are ready for lessons. Talk to your pediatrician about when he or she might be ready.
- Stay within arms distance when your toddler is in the bath or pool.