Summer season is the fun season, but for those of us who spend our lives training others in First Aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), this is the season to remain Alert. Unlike other traumatic and life-threatening happenings – a heart attack that stirs the crowd to action or a car accident that draws attention from passing drivers – drowning incidents are often silent and unexpected.
A tired child can slip down into the water unnoticed, a toddler can silently slip over the edge of the pool, an experienced lap swimmer can suddenly blackout in shallow water and go completely unnoticed by others until it’s too late. For these reasons, it’s imperative that those who spend time around pools and bodies of water remain alert and know what to do if and when an pool safety incident occurs.
CPR & Pool Safety: It’s Not Just For Lifeguards
While certified lifeguards and swim teachers are required to learn CPR, they aren’t the only ones who should be educated in pool safety. The large majority of America’s pools – both public and private – are not supervised by lifeguards. This means the onus is on you and other supervising adults and teens to learn CPR and to uphold recommended water and pool safety guidelines.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) sites non-boat related drowning as the fifth-leading cause of unintentional death in the United States – and those statistics are higher for young children. On average, there are about 10 drowning deaths per day in this country, and the sweeping majority of them occur at unguarded sites (locations where there is no lifeguard on duty).
The CDC also reminds us that, “seconds count,” when it comes to saving a life, which is why it’s so important to learn CPR. Immediate, hands-on CPR performed by bystanders until EMTs or other emergency personnel arrive to the scene can make all the difference when it comes to preventing an unintentional death by drowning.
Where Can I Take CPR Courses?
CPR, First Aid and AED classes are open to the public so it makes sense for all adults and older children to get certified – or take refresher courses – in case these important skills are ever needed. The complete courses rarely take more than a handful of hours and are offered for a reasonable cost – a small investment that yields priceless rewards if/when you need to put the knowledge to use.
Most courses are taught in person, by certified instructors, and are offered everywhere from Parks and Recreation Offices or directly by organizations such as the American Heart Association. You may also see courses offered by community centers, public pool facilities or at your place of business.
A simple, online search of “CPR Courses + Your Area” should turn up a range of options near you, and online courses are also available.
Surprising Facts About Pool Safety and Avoidable Drowning Incidents
The more you learn about pool safety and avoidable drowning incidents, the more surprised you may be. Share this information with friends and family to help prevent a heartbreaking and unnecessary emergency in your neighborhood.
The shallow end is as deadly as the deep end
One of the biggest misconceptions about bodies of water and drowning is that shallow water is safe and deeper water is more dangerous. This is simply not true.
The International Life Saving Federation (ILSF) states that as many as 25% of all drowning-related deaths occur in water that is 3-feet deep or less, and 40% of drowning incidents occur within 6-feet of the side or edge of the pool or body of water. Furthermore, small children have been known to drown in just inches of water in bath tubs or small wading pools.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking shallow water isn’t dangerous. Never leave children or individuals who can’t swim unattended – no matter how shallow the water.
Things to keep in mind:
- Never play breath-holding games as these can lead to shallow water blackouts
- Always answer the body’s urge to breathe, even if it means taking an unwarranted break from play or your swim/water workout
- Never dive in water less than 6-feet deep as you risk a spinal or head injury, as well as drowning
Children can drown in matter of one or two minutes
Babies and toddlers, 0- to 4-years of age, are the most likely to drown, and the large majority drown in backyard swimming pools. Unfortunately, most of the adults or older siblings supervising these children share the same story, “I only went inside for a minute…”
Never ever leave children unattended, even if it’s just to run inside to grab a towel, use the bathroom, or get something to drink. Have children get out with you and bring them inside, after which they can happily return to the water. They may not be happy about an involuntary break from their fun activity, but keeping them safe is well-worth their fleeting disappointment.
Enroll the family in swim lessons
Not surprisingly, lack of swimming ability is a common thread for drowning victims. The studies show that formal swimming lessons, provided by certified swim instructors, reduce drowning incidences, particularly in the younger child population. However, adults and teens should also learn how to swim. Not only will formal swim lessons reduce their chances of drowning, it will also teach them valuable water safety skills in case they find themselves in a position to help another individual who is struggling in the water.
Your college student is also at risk for drowning
Yes, it’s true that younger children have the highest risk of drowning, but one of the next highest “at-risk” populations are adults in the 20- to 25-year old bracket. Teens and adolescents are also at risk – and alcohol and other intoxicants are often the culprits.
According to the CDC, “Among adolescents and adults, alcohol use is involved in up to 70% of deaths associated with water recreation.” In addition to compromising balance, coordination and judgment – alcohol’s effects are exacerbated by heat and sun.
While it’s true you can’t control every aspect of your teen’s or young adult’s life, sharing these statistics and expressing your concerns can help them to make better decisions. Furthermore, offering to fund CPR and First Aid class certification, or going together as a family, will arm older children with important information that may help them save a life.
Have a pool at home?
A few simple additions to the pool area can make all the difference in creating a safe and incident-free environment:
- Install a four-sided barrier or fence around the pool, with self-closing and self-latching gates
- Consider installing a simple alarm system on the pool enclosure
- Have first-aid equipment easily available around the pool area
- Post visible signs demonstrating basic CPR and first-aid instructions
- Never let children use pool without adult supervision
- Enforce strict rules regarding running and horseplay around the pool area
- Always drain and overturn wading pools that aren’t in use
Have a group of friends, families or a neighborhood safety group interested in taking a CPR class? Contact the Response Institute and let us know. We’ll keep you abreast of upcoming classes, and we can also bring our certified courses directly to you.