Only You Can Prevent Accidental Drownings

Summer is here, and everyone is getting into the swim. Before donning that stylish and flattering bathing suit, though, let us review some lessons on summer water safety from our friends up north:

A report from Canada reveals that 86 percent of parents believe that swimming lessons are enough to keep their kids from drowning. The organization "Safe Kids Canada" strongly disagrees with this and recommends establishing 'five layers of protection' to protect children from accidental drownings. The precautions are meant to be used simultaneously and the word is out to educate adults on the latest research in water safety:

"It is not enough to simply teach your child to swim," said Allyson Hewitt, executive director of Safe Kids Canada, the national injury prevention program of The Hospital for Sick Children. "Although this is an important layer, parents play a vital role in drowning prevention."

What exactly are our responsibilities as parents and pool owners?

The 'Five Layers' of protection are:

1. Actively Supervise - stay with your kids at all times around water.

34 per cent of Canadian parents believe that if a child were drowning nearby, they would hear splashing, crying and screaming. This is simply not true. Drowning happens quickly and silently, often the child just slips under the water. Their lungs fill with water, making it impossible to make any sound.

2. Get Trained - learn proper water rescue techniques and CPR.

3. Create Barriers - fence in your swimming pool, with a four-sided fence, please.

Nearly one in five Canadian parents (19 per cent) believe that if their child has taken swimming lessons, fences and gates around home pools are not needed. Studies have shown that using a four-foot high (1.2 m), four-sided pool fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate could prevent 7 out of 10 drownings in children under the age of five.

4. Use Lifejackets - (this is one of those "What are you, a wussy?" precautions that teens are particularly negligent in following).

Lifejackets are designed to keep you afloat in water, but they only work if you wear them. Arm floats, inner tubes and other inflatable toys should never be used to prevent your child from drowning.

5. Teach Kids to Swim - according to the Safe Kids Canada program, by age five children are physically and mentally old enough to take swimming lessons. Don't just rely on these lessons to keep your kids safe, though.

Pass these tips along, have fun swimming and don't forget the sunscreen!

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Have a water safe day.