It's summertime, which means swimming pools, trips to the ocean, and lakefront summer barbecues. While these fantastic activities are great ways for you to spend quality time with your family, it's also time to be on high alert as your children head towards the water. But what should you be watching for? Flailing hands and screams of "Help!"? Lots of splashing and freaking out?
Actually, no. That's not at all what a drowning victim looks like. And what's even more frightening is how most of us could easily ignore a drowning child, and have no idea what horrible thing is happening right in front of our eyes. Because a drowning child is completely still and silent. Even more frightening, once people enter this stage called the instinctive drowning response, you only have between 20 and 60 seconds to save them.
While this Coast Guard member posted this terrifying story last year, it's worth repeating as we all suit up and head to the pool. In fact, I'm printing out Mario Vittone's advice and carrying it with me in my wallet:
... children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you get to them and find out why.
Lifeguards are trained to spot drowning people, but we regular Joes at the beach are not. But hopefully after you read this, you will be. Even before you head out, there are ways to help prevent this horrifying scenario.
Rebecca Wear Robinson tells parents how to teach their children respect and love for the water. Her biggest piece of advice for drowning prevention is to teach your kids about water safety. Not swimming lessons, water safety. She recommends getting your children used to water at the earliest of ages, and showing them how being safe in water will be rewarded. Presenting water as fun as well as teaching them the dangers is the key to enjoying the summer without fear.
Her other piece of advice is constant positive reinforcement to never go into the water without an adult. This one I'll be doing starting today. It's something I just assumed my kids knew, but when it comes to trying to save children from drowning, you should never make any assumptions. Especially one that you'll be able to hear your child if he is in distress.
So go forth this summer and have an amazing time getting wet! Just don't forget to stop, watch, and listen.
What do you do to keep your kids safe in water?
Image via momentcaptured1/Flickr