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Protect kids from drowning dangers this pool season

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Photo of a little boy having fun with his father while swimming in the pool.

Drowning is a leading cause of death for children, especially for young children between the ages of 1 and 4. That’s why learning basic swim safety is vital as the temperatures creep up this spring. Whether you own a pool or are just attending a pool party at a friend’s house, the most important part of swim safety is vigilance.

“Most of the drowning and near-drowning incidents we see in the emergency room are from pools,” says Sara Kirby, MD, medical director of the pediatric emergency room at AdventHealth Tampa. “We often hear a lot of, ‘I thought he was watching,’ or ‘I thought she was watching.’ But it’s important to remember that If it’s everyone’s job, it’s no one’s job.”

To ensure one person is always responsible for keeping an eye on kids as they swim and play, Dr. Kirby and AdventHealth Tampa are introducing neon-colored swim safety lanyards to serve as physical, visible reminders of who’s in charge.

“They’ll help you know who’s watching the children at any given moment,” she says. “Then, if that person needs a break, they can hand the lanyard off to another adult.”

4 tips for swim safety

In addition to using a physical tool like a lanyard to designate who’s watching, Dr. Kirby shares other tips for swim safety:

1. Take swim lessons
From an early age, kids need to understand how to be safe around water. Pools can pose a powerful temptation for young children, so if they jump in without asking or lean over and fall in, it’s crucial they know what to do.

That’s where swim lessons can help. The Red Cross and other local organizations, like the YMCA, offer swim lessons for all ages. Just remember that no matter how many lessons your child has, they can still become overwhelmed in the water at a moment’s notice, so always keep them within an arm’s length.

2. Never rely on flotation devices (or even life jackets) to save a child

While something is always better than nothing, these aids should be viewed as just that — aids. These tools can’t be relied on to save a child from drowning.

3. Don’t leave children unattended in a body of water

It doesn’t matter if it’s a bathtub or a pool, never walk away while your little one is playing in water, even if only for a few moments.

4. Know what to do in an emergency

If a child slips underwater and stays there for a while, or another water-related emergency occurs, you should know what to do: Call 911 and perform CPR if needed. Even if the child is awake and appears fine, you should always call 911, just so a medical provider can make sure they’re OK.

Although these tips relate to pools, they can just as easily apply to oceans, lakes or ponds, Dr. Kirby says. “There’s water just about everywhere in Florida, so anything we can do to raise awareness and education around swim safety, especially heading into the spring and summer seasons, is the goal.”

Fast medical attention from pediatric experts

If you have a water-related emergency, every second counts. When you call 911, ask to go to the pediatric emergency room at AdventHealth Tampa. Our experienced pediatric providers can provide the care your child needs, right away.

Sarah Kirby-AdventHealth Tampa

About Dr. Kirby

Sara, Kirby MD is a board-certified pediatric emergency medicine with over 15 years of experience. She is currently the medical director for the pediatric emergency department at AdventHealth Tampa and is committed to growing pediatric emergency care in the area.

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