Germany had more than 300 drownings in the summer of 2018. The German Lifeguard Association (DLRG), the world’s largest lifeguard organization, issued a warning to parents in response: There is a direct link between being distracted by smartphones and child drowning deaths.
Studies show that cell phones are a growing distraction for parents who should be supervising children in different settings (such as at a playground). Children with distracted parents were significantly more likely to engage in riskier behaviors. Studies also showthat parents may overestimate their child’s swimming abilities and believe that active supervision is less necessary if their 2- to 5-year-old child has completed swimming lessons. However, drowning rates are highest among children ages 1 to 4, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
How to keep kids safe at the pool
Most drownings of young children happen in home pools, often very fast and silently. It only takes seconds for a child to go under water. Children typically do not splash or cry for help.
“An adult should monitor children at all times while in the water,” said Reecha Lusby, PA-C, physician assistant with Norton Children’s Medical Associates – Fairdale. “No matter how good of a swimmer a child may be, it’s safer to be supervised. No one should ever swim alone; it’s safer to have backup should something unexpected happen.”
Norton Children’s Medical Associates
Here are some tips to make sure your family is swimming safely:
- When there is no lifeguard present, designate an adult to be a water watcher. This person’s sole responsibility is to supervise children while swimming. This person should not be using a phone, drinking or distracted in any way. Adults can take turns being the water watcher to make sure everyone can enjoy social gatherings. Water watchers should be trained in CPR.
- If you’re at a pool, lake or body of water with a lifeguard, you still need to watch your children. You are going to be able to know — faster than anyone else — if your child is in trouble.
- Teach children lifesaving skills, such as how to float on their back, tread water and move to the side of the pool to climb out.
- Don’t rely on inflatable toys and water wings to keep a child safe. Children can easily fall off of toys or slide out of wings and slip right under the water. If you’re using inflatables, you should be right there with a child, especially if he or she cannot swim.