The most important thing to remember when it comes
to water safety is that children need constant supervision around water
- whether the water is in a bathtub, a wading pool, an ornamental fish
pond, a swimming pool, a spa, the beach, or a lake. Young children are
especially vulnerable - they can drown in less than 2 inches of water.
That means drowning can happen where you'd least expect it - the sink,
the toilet bowl, fountains, buckets, inflatable pools, or small bodies
of standing water around your home, such as ditches filled with rain
water. Always watch children closely when they're in or near any water.
Learn to swim, and if your child is older than 4 years, have him or
her learn to swim, too (check the local recreation center or YMCA for
classes taught by qualified instructors). Don't assume, however, that
just because your child knows how to swim, he won't drown. You should
always supervise your children while they are in the water, no matter
what their swimming skill levels.
Invest in proper-fitting, Coast Guard-approved flotation devices
(life vests) and use them whenever a child is near water. Check the
weight and size recommendations on the label, then have your child try
it on to make sure it fits snugly. For children younger than 5, choose a
vest with a strap between the legs and head support - the collar will
keep the child's head up and his face out of the water. Inflatable vests
and arm devices such as water wings are not effective against drowning.
Awareness can go a long way in preventing accidents
outside of the home, too. Find out where the water hazards in your
neighborhood are. Who has a pool or water spa? Where are the retaining
ponds or creeks that may attract children? Make neighbors who have pools
aware that you have a young child and ask them to keep their gates