For parents, active supervision is a critical way to keep little ones safe near the water. As we often point out on this blog, drowning is the leading cause of death for children under the age of four. The truth is, the cause of many child drowning incidents can be directly traced to an action or inaction by an adult.
At Life Saver Pool Fence, our top priority is helping to keep kids as safe as possible. One of the biggest ways for parents to prevent their children from becoming a statistic is by simply paying better attention. It’s important that children are watched correctly. Most people would be shocked to learn that, in 60% of child drowning incidents, the child was being “supervised” by one or more adults.
Don’t Play the Blame Game
A sentiment that parents of drowning victims often share is: “I can’t believe this happened to my child.” They never realized how quickly a drowning incident could become their reality.
Before we go any further, we need to address that not all child drownings situations are a result of negligence. More often than not, these are simply good parents and adults making small mistakes that have tragic consequences. Just last month, we saw two stories of parents diving into the water to save a child. One of those incidents cost the lives of both a child and a father. In the other incident, we saw some good news as a heroic parent was able to prevent a tragedy.
In both cases, these stories of courageous adults equate to important teaching moments. These accounts shine a light on the reasons why we must all learn the proper way to prevent a drowning. The first step is active supervision.
What is Active Supervision?
Active supervision is much more than standing by the pool while kids are swimming. It takes diligence.
- Infants and toddlers need extra attention. As the adult, you should be in the water. Make sure to stay within arm’s reach at all times.
- For older kids, an adult should still pay close, constant attention. When you’re on lifeguard duty, treat it like a job!
- Maintain visual contact. Because a drowning happens silently, it’s not enough to be in the general vicinity of your child while they are in the water. You must be watching them at all times. This includes children who know how to swim.
- Practice touch supervision. When possible, get in the water with your children while they swim, and stay within arm’s reach of them. This will decrease the chances that you’ll get distracted and will allow you to respond quickly if they need help.
- Eliminate distraction. Know yourself. If you’re tempted to read your book or peruse your smart phone while you watch your children by the pool, leave these potential distractions in the house. Devote yourself fully to supervising. Pool time is not the time to multi-task.
Now, one can assume that none of the adults involved in the unfortunate stories above ever intended for any harm to come to their child. However, the fact that the child drowned while under their supervision shows that there is a lack of understanding about what it means to truly supervise children near the water.
By being vigilant with water safety steps, we have the opportunity to prevent accidents before they happen. But we have to get to the point when, instead of saying “I can’t believe this could happen to my child,” we’re saying “I know this could happen to my child, and I will do whatever it takes to prevent that from happening.”