Multipure’s Spotlight for May 2021 is “Water Safety at Home,” which means that this month, our blog posts and social media will focus on ways to keep you and your family safe and healthy around water at home.

Water safety is more than just protecting your drinking water from contaminants. Water safety is protecting children and families from potential water-related danger in and around the home. Especially for young children, even small sources of water can be hazardous.

The sad fact is that drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death among children 1-4 years old. Among children 19 years old and under, drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury-related death. And among infants – children less than a year old – drowning is more likely to occur at home, in the bathtub or a bucket.

Protecting Children in the Home

They key to water safety in the home is awareness – knowing where your children are and what they are doing. Younger children can drown in as little as one inch of water, making bathtubs, toilets, and sinks potential water hazards. Even empty tubs, buckets, and containers can be hazardous to small children. At its most basic, removing these items as a water hazard can be as simple as:

  • Closing the lids on toilets, buckets, and containers when possible.
  • Emptying sinks, bathtubs, and other water containers when not in use.
  • Making sure any buckets, bins, or other containers in the yard are taken inside or turned upside down when not in use, to prevent water from accumulating in them during rain.
  • Keeping a close watch on young children in the bathtub or kiddie pool.

Just being around your children is not enough when it comes to known and potential water hazards. Among children ages 1-4, 88% of drowning deaths occurred when at least one adult was present. Water safety requires parents and adults to not simply be present, but to keep an active eye on what children are doing in the presence of water.

Protecting Children Around Pools

Aside from a full bathtub, a pool will most likely be the largest source of open water around most homes and families; this includes below-ground pools, above-ground pools, hot tubs, and kiddie pools. Because of this, any form of pool can serve as the greatest potential water safety hazard for children.

Kiddie pools – both the soft, inflatable types and the hard-sided plastic or vinyl types – are a common source of both fun and potential danger for small children. Although kiddie pools generally do not hold more than a few inches of water, remember that children can drown in as little as one inch of water. When the children are done, empty the pool of water and either store it somewhere safe or flip it over so that it cannot hold water.

Larger, above-ground pools include both hard-sided pools and inflatable, soft-sided pools. These types of pools are generally designed to stay filled with water all summer long as permanent or semi-permanent yard fixtures. The first way to ensure safety around an above-ground pool is to remove the access ladder or steps when the pool is not in use, and to cover the top of the pool with a rigid safety cover so that no one can easily enter it. Make sure any pool toys and accessories are removed when the pool is not in use, as they serve as unnecessary temptation and dangers to young children looking to retrieve them.

For permanent, below-ground pools, a pool fence is a good first line of safety – particularly in conjunction with a self-closing and self-latching gate. Making the pool less accessible for small children can prevent accidental entry into the water, or accidental hard falls if the pool is empty of water. An ideal pool fence should be no more than four inches from the ground, and at least four feet tall. It should allow for easy visibility through the fence, but not be easy to slip through or climb.

 Much like with above-ground pools, a rigid safety cover is a good safety measure to prevent accidental entry when the pool is not in use; any pool toys or accessories should also be removed to discourage small children from trying to get the items in the water.

For the interior of both above-ground and below-ground pools, it is imperative to keep small children and weak swimmers away from any filter intakes. The suction from filter intakes can trap people against the openings, keeping them underwater unless the filter is shut off or others can pull them away.

General Tips for Home and Pool Water Safety

  • Always make sure to have at least one responsible adult supervise any children around large areas of water in and around the house – in the bath, in the yard, and in the pool.
  • Make sure at least one competent adult swimmer is supervising children in and around swimming pools, and can recognize signs of panic, drowning, or distress, such as flailing limbs, panicked splashing, or gasping.
  • Establish a set of water safety rules with your children, and make sure that they understand them and their importance. Rules such as not entering pools of water unsupervised, or emptying and storing any water containers used for play time when not in use.
  • Establish a set of swimming pool rules for children, e.g., “never enter a swimming pool without parental or adult supervision,” or “stay away from drains and intakes in the pool.”
  • Make sure that any children who do not know how to swim well wear a life jacket or other floatation aid when in the swimming pool.
  • Have a life preserver with a rope near any swimming pools for emergencies.
  • Learn and become certified for CPR and basic water rescue skills.
  • Have a phone near at hand when people are using the swimming pool, to make it easier to call emergency services if necessary.

Any household with young children can benefit from identifying and understanding potential water hazards in and around the home. Younger children often do not understand the risks inherent to bodies of water, so it is up to parents and other adults to ensure their water safety. With the right precautions, rules, and foresight, many of these dangers can be mitigated or eliminated, protecting the health of your home and family.

 

References

  1. “Water Safety at Home.” Safe Kids Worldwide. Last accessed May 7, 2021. https://www.safekids.org/watersafety
  2. “Water Safety Tips at Home.” Safe Kids Worldwide. Last accessed May 7, 2021. https://www.safekids.org/tip/water-safety-tips-home
  3. “Water Safety.” American Red Cross. Last accessed May 7, 2021. https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/water-safety.html
  4. Santoro, Alessia. “Ways to Keep Your Kids Safe around Water While at Home, According to an Expert.” Pop Sugar. August 30, 2020. https://www.popsugar.com/family/home-water-safety-tips-parents-47728292
  5. “Water Safety: Protect Your Child from Drowning.” Mayo Clinic. February 7, 2020. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/child-safety/art-20044744
  6. “Water Safety: How to Keep Kids Safe in and around Water.” Johns Hopkins Medicine. March 31, 2020. https://www.hopkinsallchildrens.org/ACH-News/General-News/Water-safety-How-to-keep-kids-safe-in-and-around