Children's Health: Six Summer Water Safety Tips (VIDEO)

As summer heats up, spending time in the water is on many agendas. Bathing suits, towels and sunscreen are among the most basic items used to enjoy the water at the beach or pool, but what about safety? If water safety doesn’t traditionally make it on your checklist, it definitely should, say children’s emergency medicine physicians and swimming coaches.

(VIDEO: The medical director at Baptist Children’s Hospital Emergency Center and a veteran swim coach talk about summer water safety, including preventing pool accidents and tips for parents of young children.)

Part One of a Series about Summer Water Safety

“For every one child that dies from a water-related drowning, another five come to the emergency room for near drownings,” said Fernando Mendoza, M.D., medical director, Baptist Children’s Hospital Emergency Center. “There are a lot of water accidents out there that don’t get reported. Safety is key to preventing a tragedy.”

Robert Strauss, swim coach and technical director at Swim Gym, agrees. His organization’s water safety instructors have taught more than 50,000 swimmers since 1984. A former Olympic swimmer who has taught swimming in Miami for more than 40 years, Strauss is considered a leader in the field of aquatic education.

“Similar to teaching kindergarten, the key to teaching children to swim is through play and making it fun to be in the water,” Mr. Strauss said. “The goal is to get kids excited and competent about swimming in the pool.”

This mission of Swim Gym is “to eradicate or reduce statistics of death by accidental drowning through education,” says Strauss. The organization operates out of the Jewish Community Center (JCC) located in Aventura, Kendall and Miami Beach.

Six Summer Water Safety Tips

Other things that can prevent tragedy in the water include:

  1. CPR.Administering CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation). “In the unfortunate event you find a child submerged under water, the most important thing you can do is pull them from the water and start CPR immediately,” Dr. Mendoza says. “Get help, call 911 and keep doing CPR.”  Effective CPR in a child involves compressions — quick, fast and deep — to keep the blood pumping and oxygen going to the tissues, he adds.
  2. Lifeguards.“Choose beaches and pools with lifeguards on duty and sit near them,” Dr. Mendoza advises. “When you get to the beach, survey the situation and look at the surf. If riptides are forecast, stay out of the water that part of the day.”
  3. Life vests.The most important item in boating safety is a live vest, according to Dr. Mendoza. “Life vests are life savers,” he says. “Wearing them applies to adults, too. A life vest is the most important life-safety factor to stay afloat above water.”
  4. Parental supervision.Don’t assume someone else is watching your children, especially at pool parties.  “Pool parties that involve a lot of people and drinking alcohol are especially dangerous,” Dr. Mendoza warns.
  5. Vigilance.“Be especially attentive when visiting relative or friends who have pools but do not have children,” Dr. Mendoza says. “These houses don’t normally have pool-safety precautions in place that houses with children do.”
  6. Dry drowning awareness.If children take in a lot of water while swimming, aspiration can occur. Dr. Mendoza advises parents and caregivers to watch children well after they’re out of the pool. “If your child is seen coughing and having a hard time breathing, bring him or her to the emergency room right away,” he said.

Both Dr. Mendoza and Mr. Strauss emphasize the role of parents in preventing children’s water-related accidents.

“Drowning happens when you least expect it,” Dr. Mendoza said. “Parents need to be exceptionally cautious about water safety this summer.”

The Baptist Health News Team visited the pool and children’s emergency room to capture these experts’ advice. Watch the video now!

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