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Close Supervision Key to Summer Water Safety for Children, Wisconsin: Pediatricians Emphasize Guidelines to Prevent Drowning and Injury


School is out and summer activities have begun - water safety is important, especially for children. The Wisconsin Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents and caregivers to actively protect children during this busy time and shares key information to reduce the risk of injury or death. The number one requirement for safety during water activities is careful, constant supervision. No child or adult, at any swimming level, is ever 'drown-proof.'

Kimberly, WI, June 09, 2010 --(PR.com)-- With school out and summer activities beginning, the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (WIAAP) advises families to familiarize themselves with summer safety tips. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has updated guidance on water safety and drowning prevention. In its updated policy, the AAP has revised its guidance on swimming lessons and highlights new drowning risks – including large, inexpensive, portable and inflatable pools – that have emerged in the past few years.

Fortunately, drowning rates have fallen steadily from 2.68 per 100,000 in 1985 to 1.32 per 100,000 in 2006. But drowning continues to be the second leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 19, claiming the lives of roughly 1,100 children in 2006. Toddlers and teenaged boys are at greatest risk.

“There are many components to water safety,” said Jeffrey W. Britton, MD, FAAP, chair of the chapter’s Violence and Injury Prevention committee.

“Children need to learn to swim,” Dr. Britton said. “But years of lessons cannot ‘drown-proof’ a child of any age. Parents must first supervise diligently and know how to perform CPR and watch children around water.”

Britton also stated that any pool should have a four-sided fence surrounding it. A fence that completely surrounds the pool – isolating it from the house – can cut drowning risk in half. Unfortunately, laws regarding pool fencing are often unfamiliar or subject to wide interpretation. Large, inflatable above-ground pools can contain thousands of gallons of water and may even require filtration equipment, so they are left filled for weeks at a time. But because they are considered “portable,” these pools often are exempt from local building codes requiring pool fencing. From 2004 to 2006, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported 47 deaths of children related to inflatable pools.

“It is very easy for a child to lean over and fall headfirst into the water owing to the soft sides of some of these pools,” Dr. Britton said. “These pools pose a constant risk.” Where there are pool or spa drains, covers or other safety devices that release the pressure in the drain can reduce the danger of a child’s limb becoming stuck or hair from being tangled.

For the best protection, WIAAP offers specific advice for parents and caregivers:

· Never – even for a moment – leave small children alone or in the care of another young child while in bathtubs, pools, spas or wading pools, or near irrigation ditches or standing water. Bath seats cannot substitute for adult supervision. Empty water from buckets and other containers immediately after use. To prevent drowning in toilets, young children should not be left alone in the bathroom.

· Closely supervise children in and around water. With infants, toddlers and weak swimmers, an adult should be within an arm’s length. With older children and better swimmers, an adult should be focused on the child and not distracted by other activities.

· If children are in out-of-home child care, ask about exposure to water and the ratio of adults to children.

· If you have a pool, install a four-sided fence that is at least 4 feet high to limit access to the pool. The fence should be hard to climb (not chain-link) and have a self-latching, self-closing gate. Families may consider pool alarms and rigid pool covers as additional layers of protection, but neither can take the place of a fence.

· Children need to learn to swim. The WIAAP supports swimming lessons for most children 4 years and older. Classes may reduce the risk of drowning in younger children as well, but because children develop at different rates, not all children will be ready to swim at the same age.

· Parents, caregivers and pool owners should learn CPR.

· Do not use air-filled swimming aids (such as inflatable arm bands) in place of life jackets. They can deflate and are not designed to keep swimmers safe.

· All children should wear a life jacket when riding in a boat. Small children and nonswimmers should also wear one at water’s edge, such as on a river bank or pier.

· Parents should know the depth of the water and any underwater hazards before allowing children to jump in. The first time you enter the water, jump feet first; don’t dive.

· When choosing an open body of water for children to swim in, select a site with lifeguards. Swimmers should know what to do in case of rip currents (swim parallel to the shore until out of the current, then swim back to the shore).

· Counsel teenagers about the increased risk of drowning when alcohol is involved.

“The best safeguard against injury and drowning include close supervision of children and equipment, age-appropriate swimming lessons, and parent and caregiver CPR training,” Britton concluded.

Comprised of nearly 1,000 members and a part of the American Academy of Pediatrics (“AAP”), WIAAP works to assure optimal health and safety for Wisconsin’s children and their families through advocacy and collaboration with child interest groups. WIAAP supports Wisconsin pediatricians, enabling them to continue to be the most effective providers of health care to children. The American Academy of Pediatrics is committed to the attainment of optimal physical, mental and social health and well-being for all infants, children, adolescents and young adults.

Contact: Kia LaBracke, Executive Director, Wisconsin Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics
Phone: 262-490-9075; Email: KLaBracke@aap.net; Web: www.wisaap.org

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Contact Information
Wisconsin Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics
Kia LaBracke
262-490-9075
Contact
www.wisaap.org

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