Canadian Statistics: Between 1997 and 1998, 162 children ages 14 and under drowned and an additional 68 were hospitalized for near drownings.
Water Safety Game
Make sure your children know how to keep safe around water. Take two pieces of paper and have your children write DO on one, and DO NOT on the other. Have them fill in the beginning of your sentence by holding up either their DO or DO NOT sign. For example, a parent would say, "follow water safety rules." In response, the child would hold up their DO sign. For younger children, make signs with a check mark and an X.
Some Water Safety Examples:
DO - swim only if there is a lifeguard or if a grown-up gives you permission to swim.
DO - take swimming lessons.
DO - follow water safety rules.
DO - swim with a buddy.
DO - wade into the water feet first if you're swimming in a lake, pond or river.
DO - wear a personal flotation device (PFD) when you are in a boat.
DO - get out of water right away if you hear thunder or see lightning.
DO - check with a grown-up before playing or skating on ice.
DO NOT - stand up in a boat.
DO NOT - sit or stand on the edge of a boat or let your arms hang over the edge.
DO NOT - eat candy or chew gum when you are swimming.
DO NOT - swim if you are tired.
DO NOT - dive off piers or rocks.
DO NOT - run around a swimming pool, dock or pier.
A PFD is a device to help you float and it can save your life if you fall in the water by mistake. PFDs add buoyancy to your body (allow you to float), hold your head and body higher in the water so you can see better, and help keep your body warm. But remember, air-filled swimming aids such as inner tubes, water-wings, and inflatable rafts are not substitutes for approved PFDs. Children using air-filled swimming aids should always be supervised by an adult within arm's reach.
The best way for your children to understand the importance of PFDs is to show them. Visit a pool (public, residential or hotel), lake or beach with your children. Have them float on their backs - see how long they can float before getting tired. Then, repeat the exercise wearing a PFD (follow manufacturer's instructions on proper wear of the PFD). Ask your children if the PFD made it easier to float and see what's going on around them.
Explain to your children what a PFD is and why wearing one is so important when boating, jet-skiing, tubing, or water-skiing. Call your local American Red Cross chapter for more information on U.S. Coast Guard-approved PFDs, or visit their Web site at www.redcross.org.
Have several children put on PFDs and float in a "huddle" position to practice staying afloat as a group in case of an emergency. Have the younger children get in the middle of the group while everyone else gets as close as possible, holding on to one another by wrapping their legs together and putting their arms around their "buddies." This activity will stress the importance of staying in a group, which helps everyone stay warm and enables rescuers to see people in a large body of water.
Data Sources: American Red Cross, Canadian Red Cross Society,
National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), National Center for Injury Prevention
and Control, National SAFE KIDS Campaign®, Safe Kids Canada, United States
Graphic Source: PFD huddle - hypothermia.org