Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
 

Water Safety

Water Safety

The importance of water safety:

Although most drownings occur in residential swimming pools, children can drown in just one inch of water (such as in buckets, bath tubs, wading pools, diaper pails, toilets, hot tubs, and spas). In addition, open waters such as oceans, rivers, and lakes pose a drowning threat to older children. The majority of children who survive being submerged in water without brain damage are discovered within two minutes, and most who die are found after ten minutes. 

Parents are advised to take the following preventive steps to protect their children from drowning:

A warning about personal flotation devices:

On boats, PFDs should be U.S. Coast Guard-approved and should fit properly. Inflatable swimming devices, such as "water wings," rafts, toys, and other items, are not considered safe and should not be relied on to prevent drowning.

Water safety in and around the home:

More than half of all infant drownings (under age 1) occur in bathtubs. Supportive baby bathtub "rings" do not prevent drownings if the child is unsupervised. Water hazards in and around the home may include the following:

Small children can drown when they lean forward to look into a bucket or open the toilet. Because the head is the heaviest part of a small child, it is easy for him or her to fall over into a container. Containers filled with liquid often weigh more than the small child and will not tip over when the child falls in.

Swimming pool safety:

More than half of childhood drownings occur in swimming pools, either at the child's home or at a friend's, neighbor's, or relative's house. Pools are especially hazardous if:

Boating safety:

When boating, sailing, and canoeing, children of all ages should wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices (PFDs), such as life jackets. In fact, many states require the use of PFDs on all boats at all times. It is estimated that in 90 percent of boating-related drownings victims were not wearing PFDs.

Drowning in the winter:

Children can drown during the winter by falling through thin ice. In addition, pools with winter covers that do not completely cover the pools pose a threat, because children can slip between the cover into the pool.

If children are around bodies of water on a regular basis, it benefits parents to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), which, in case of an emergency, can save lives, reduce the severity of injury, and improve the chance of survival. CPR training is available through the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, and your local hospital or fire department.

A warning about diving:

Diving accidents can result in permanent spinal cord injuries, brain damage, and/or death. Diving accidents occur when a person:

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