By Cassie McGovern, McGovern Foundation, Inc
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about a relaxing day by the pool or maybe even the beach? Do you think about grabbing the new book you just bought or maybe pulling up a chaise lounge and taking a nap? Ahh, that does sound lovely; especially with the weather warming up.
Before you make those plans or get yourself settled in at the beach, I want to make sure you and your loved ones are safe. As a parent of a drowning victim and a water safety professional for 10+ years, I want to share with you a few safety tips and lessons that I have learned along the way. Edna Mae was only 19 months of age when she was taken from us by a drowning in our backyard pool. Since Em’s death, we have worked to raise awareness and educate families so they never experience the same heartache.
Although the pool in your backyard is inviting and so enjoyable, we need to take simple steps to prevent our children from gaining access to it. We need to start thinking of our pool like a busy parking lot. Would we allow our child to walk around a busy parking lot alone? Then why do we allow our children to be unsupervised near any body of water?
Every drowning fatality tells the same story… ”I never thought this could happen!” “He/She was only gone for a minute!”
What I want all parents and caregivers to know is that it can happen to them.
We all have a plan if we get a flat tire…
We have a jack in our vehicle, we are taught how to change a tire yet, none of us want to have a flat tire but we are prepared if it happens.
We all have plans if there is a fire. We all know to stop drop and roll, we have fire extinguishers in our home, we have a safety place to meet if there is a fire. None of us want to ever have a fire but we are prepared if it happens.
There is never a plan made for the 20,000 gallons of water sitting in your own backyard. Children are drawn to water; they do not care if it is the bathtub, dog dish, puddle of water, pool, or near by canal. They love it and do not understand the danger that it can bring.
Drowning is the number 1 cause of unintentional death for children 1 to 4, with Florida having one of the highest mortality rates. Over the last 3 years, Florida suffered the loss of 221 children to drowning. CDC reports that for every 1 death, 5 children are impacted by a non-fatal injury which increases the lives that are impacted considerably.
Here is what you need to know…
- Drownings happen in as little as 2” of water.
- A good swimmer can drown too.
- Drownings are Preventable.
- Drownings are quick and silent; they happen without a sound or even a splash.
Five Simple Steps…
- Supervision, when you are near any body of water.
- Install door chimes leading outside, to alert you
- Install a 4’ fence around any body of water, preferably
with a self-closing self-latching gate.
- Teach a child to swim, as early as 6 months.
- Learn CPR, you never know when you will need it.
For more info. see www.mcgovernfoundation.com