“We try to make sure we have the swim vests on and be close and make sure that they are always in arms reach or side of the pool or with an adult in the ocean,” says mom Kristen Keffer.
Here’s a sobering statistic: in 9 out of 10 drownings a caregiver claimed to be close by. It wasn’t enough if they weren’t watching. The first thing you need to know about drowning prevention is to designate a water-watcher.
“You’re the person who’s just watching the kids. So you’re not on the phone and you’re not cooking, you are literally within arms reach of the pool. That way, there is somebody who could see a child slip under the water,” says Michele King, director of the child advocacy program with Golisano Children’s Hospital.
Second tip: create layers of barriers to the swim area.
“We recommend that you have alarms and locks on the doors that lead to the pool, that lead to the water. We recommend that you have a four-sided fence around the pool with a self-latching, self-closing, self-latching gate,” says King.
And finally: Don’t underestimate swimming lessons. They can reduce the risk of drowning by as much as 88% in children aged 1 to 4 years who face the highest risk of drowning.
“Water safety lessons can be beneficial to very young children; swimming lessons as they grow older. Swimming is the one sport that could actually save a life, save your life or save somebody else’s,” says King.
And always keep a phone nearby, to call 9-1-1 in case of an emergency.