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Water Safety – Avoiding tragedy with your little one

Did you know drowning is the number one cause of accidental deaths among children ages 1 to 4? At Community Care Physicians, we feel water safety is very important. That's why we are sharing these water safety guidelines.

Water Safety - Avoiding tragedy with your little one

My daughter is 6 months old. Like most parents, my husband and I do everything we can to keep our daughter happy and healthy. We make sure she eats only organic food. If we catch her staring at a TV or phone screen, we quickly turn her away. We read to her every night before bed. I actually spent 2 hours researching the best sippy cups for infants.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. But let’s be honest – if she ate regular oatmeal, she’d definitely survive. If she stares at a screen every now and then, it’s probably not going to make her brain dead. And the sippy cup… we won’t even go there! We all go through great lengths as parents to provide our children the best opportunities to learn and grow. Unfortunately, it’s so easy to get caught up in these little things, that we sometimes forget about the real threats our can children face – like drowning.

Did you know drowning is the number one cause of accidental deaths among children ages 1 to 4? What’s worse, it only takes about 2 inches of water for a child to drown. This is why water safety is so important. Being an employee of Community Care Physicians, I was able to interview one of our pediatricians on the subject. After speaking with him, I wanted to share what I learned with anyone and everyone who will listen because I am convinced that water safety truly saves lives and we do NOT talk about it enough. 

Dr. Michael Morin from CapitalCare Pediatrics Albany of CCP firmly believes that, “water safety should be addressed at every visit, even newborn visits, because the dangers change over time.” Bathtubs are the number one place for drownings for children under the age of 1. For toddlers and older children, the risks can expand to include anything from pools to lakes, bathtubs to toilets. Children are naturally drawn to the water and, in case you haven’t noticed, water is everywhere!

So, what exactly does water safety entail? Well, this varies based on the age of your child. For families like mine with young babies, supervision is crucial. You should never be distracted while bathing your child; this includes using a cell phone or drinking alcohol. As Dr. Morin points out, “children will naturally want to move in the bathtub. Use this opportunity to practice rolling on their back, blowing bubbles, and so on.”

Once your child is between 6 months to 1 year old, it’s the perfect time to introduce him or her to swimming. Elizabeth Robert, who works with Dr. Morin at CapitalCare Pediatrics Albany, is also a certified swim instructor. For younger babies, swim programs will focus on feeling comfortable in water and will teach them how to hold their breath, float on their back and be okay with putting their head under water. Toddlers will learn how to blow bubbles, kick their feet, stay safe in the water, and be confident in the water without parent.

According to Dr. Morin, “your goal should be that your child is capable of saving themselves in the event of an accidental immersion in water.” He also recommends parents to be wary of floaties since they will not teach children to be swim safe and could prevent them from being comfortable in the water without these devices. Both Dr. Morin and Elizabeth urge parents and family members to learn CPR.

If you do happen to have a pool at home, there are additional safety measures you should follow. First and foremost, you must secure your pool per your local or state guidelines. You can search for them online or call your town clerk for more information. Pool alarms and covers are good, but you shouldn’t solely rely on them. They can be faulty and you may not be able to get to your child in time if there is an issue. Dr. Morin also recommends parents establish rules with their children about when they can access the pool and to never be in the pool area without their parent.

Dr. Morin also stresses that adults have to take supervising seriously; he refers to them as “water watchers.” Water watchers should not be distracted by cellphones or books, nor should they be drinking alcohol. He also tells parents to stay by the pool. Since drowning is a very quiet process, you won’t be able to hear your child drowning from inside your home. And the younger your children are, the more likely it is that you won’t get to them in time. For any child who isn’t comfortable with swimming – water watchers should use touch supervision. This is where you are in the water with your children and they are never out of arm’s reach.

After doing this interview, my initial reaction was to never let my little one near water ever again. However, avoiding water is unrealistic and could actually be more dangerous for kids since they will be unprepared when they do eventually encounter it – for example, at a friend’s house. As Elizabeth says, “everyone should know how to swim,” and that includes parents. So, I don’t know about you, but I am going to be signing us up for some swim lessons this summer – after I research the best facilities in the area, of course.

As a healthcare organization with many pediatric and family practices, we take your child’s health and well-being very seriously. If you have questions about water safety, please don’t hesitate to talk to your pediatrician or family practitioner. They are here to help and guide you, not just with rashes or colds, but also safety concerns. No question that is too stupid or outside their scope of practice. We also urge you to share this article with your family and friends. It just might save someone's life. 

Article written by: Samantha Schmitt, CCP Marketing Department

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