-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
SATURDAY, June 8 (HealthDay News) -- Every day in the United
States, three children drown. Although many people expect a
drowning child to splash and yell for help, these accidents often
happen quietly without anyone noticing, according to a pediatric
However, with proper training and supervision, drownings and
other injuries are avoidable, said David Schwebel, director of the
University of Alabama at Birmingham Youth Safety Lab.
"Backyard swimming pool drownings are far too common. These incidents are devastating to families, and they can be prevented," said Schwebel in a university news release. "A large portion of drownings actually occur quietly with little or no yelling or splashing. Many people drown while underwater and sink to the bottom, and only an observant lifeguard, parent or fellow swimmer can save that life."
The first step to take to protect children from drowning is to
teach them to swim, Schwebel advised. "Swimming lessons are vital,"
he said. "The most recent scientific evidence suggests they may
actually help a lot in reducing the risk of a child drowning while
Although learning how to swim is essential, even great swimmers
can drown. Schwebel warned that all children, regardless of their
swimming ability, must be constantly monitored while in water.
"Supervision is the first priority and not just intermittent checking," Schwebel cautioned. "A good supervisor must act like a lifeguard, constant and alert, not distracted by yard work, reading a magazine or text-messaging on a phone."
Among the other ways to keep children safe in the pool:
Swimming in the ocean is more dangerous and carries different
risks than swimming in pools, Schwebel pointed out. Ocean currents
can be unpredictable. Jellyfish and other ocean life can also cause
injury, he added.
"If warnings are posted by lifeguards or other local authorities, they should be heeded," Schwebel advised. "You should never enter ocean water if authorities warn you that it's dangerous."
When swimming at a lake on in a river, it's never a good idea to
jump in without knowing the depth of the water. Schwebel also
cautioned that hidden rocks and logs could lie close to the surface
of the water. Swimmers can hit these objects when jumping into the
"Swimming is great exercise, it is fun, and it keeps us cool in the hot summer," Schwebel concluded. "Children should learn to swim and learn to enjoy swimming, but we must always be alert of the risks of swimming and prevent drowning."
The Nemours Foundation has more about
water safety for kids.
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