According to the Canadian Red Cross, an average of 400 people drown each year, making it one of the leading causes of unintentional death in Canada for child ages one to four. For many Canadians, their water safety strategy includes not allowing their children to access a pool or water area, but that isn’t always the most effective plan, as it relies solely on verbal commands. It only takes seconds for a child to disappear and less than three centimeters of water for a baby to drown, meaning parents and caregivers must be vigilant when around water.
Shannon Scully-Pratt, Water Safety Program Representative with the Canadian Red Cross, admits that “swimming skills alone aren’t always enough to save a life. Learning to swim is important, but learning water safety is key to preventing an emergency in or on the water.”
Here are 10 things a parent must know before taking their child to an area with water, courtesy of the Canadian Red Cross.
- Regardless of the location, ensure children are supervised — even those who can swim
- Ensure your backyard pool is fully fenced with a self-closing, self-latching gate
- Clear all toys from the water and away from the edge as they tempt children
- Ensure you (or the location you are visiting) has emergency equipment including a first-aid kit and a phone
- When boating, ensure everyone in the boat has their lifejacket on and fastened
- Consider requiring all non-swimmers to wear a lifejacket to keep them at the surface, making it easier for you to supervise them
- Avoid diving unless the individual is properly trained and after making sure the water is deep enough
- Play with care — don’t push or jump on others. Even the friendliest “dunking” game is dangerous
- Never underestimate the power of current: Swimmers or waders can be swept away in an instant
- Get trained through swimming and water safety lessons; get your Pleasure Craft Operator Card if you operate a boat; know how to respond in an emergency by taking first-aid lessons
Just like with any outdoor activities, it is important to also stay hydrated by drinking at least a half a cup of water for every half hour out in the sun and to stay protected by reapplying sunscreen every two hours. By being informed and proactive, you and your kids will have a fun, safe summer.