GET HEALTHY: Keep kids safe near water
and Valerie Cauhape
Carson City Health and Human Services
This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
As the weather in our area begins to warm, thoughts turn to summer recreation activities. For many of us, that means time spent at a lake or on the river, or basking at area swimming pools. This can be a fun and relaxing way to spend a summer day, but there are hazards, especially for children. To help protect our children, the American Red Cross has some helpful water safety tips that parents should follow, and that we should teach our kids at an early age:
• Teach kids to always swim with a buddy in a supervised area. Never allow your children to go swimming alone. If they do tire or struggle, there won’t be anyone to go to for help. If you have a pool at home, don’t let your kids use it if you aren’t there. Remember, “floaties” do not replace an adult actively watching over the water activities.
• Be cool, follow the rule. Rules at pools and waterways are there to help keep everyone safe. If you don’t follow the rules, you could be putting yourself and others at risk for harm.
• Look before you leap – choose safe places to swim and dive. Never dive into shallow water, and always check to make sure there aren’t submerged objects in the water where you plan to dive. Often, people are hurt because they didn’t scope out an area before they leap into the water. Also, it is important to make sure you aren’t jumping in on top of someone else who is swimming.
• Reach or throw, don’t go. There are safe ways to rescue a swimmer in trouble. If you see someone struggling in the water, do not jump in after them. They could pull you under, too. Instead, lay on the deck and extend an object to pull them to safety or throw them something that floats. Just be careful not to hit them with it.
• Don’t just pack it, wear your jacket. If you are on a boat, the importance of wearing a life jacket cannot be underestimated. Always make your children wear properly fitted life jackets, and set a good example by wearing one yourself. For children younger than age 13, wearing a life jacket is the law.
• Even though summers in Nevada are warm, the water in area lakes – especially Tahoe, can be cold. Watch your child for signs of hypothermia, like pale skin and blue lips, and get them out of the water to warm up.
Lifeguards are there to protect your family, but they are not babysitters. Lifeguards are there to keep people safe and enforce the rules, but often, there are many people in a pool, and the lifeguard cannot specifically watch your child at every second. Please be aware of your child’s whereabouts at all times near the water. Don’t think you can rely on your child shouting for help. Many children slip quietly below the water.
The dangers of drowning are real. More than 20 percent of fatal drowning victims are children younger than 14. For every child that dies from drowning, four more are treated in emergency rooms for near-drowning events. Drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children, behind motor vehicle accidents, and is the leading cause of injury death for children younger than age 4.
Parents, please learn CPR. Knowing this life-saving technique could mean the difference between life and death in a drowning situation, and CPR is a helpful skill to know, even if you aren’t around water. Carson City Fire Department offers CPR classes to the community on the third Saturday of each month from 8:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m. The cost for CPR training is $40. Those who are interested may call 775-283-7160 for more information.