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Doctor shares tips for keeping kids safe around the pool this Fourth of July

Posted at 10:44 AM, Jul 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-03 11:44:49-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, drowning is the leading cause of injury-related deaths for children between the ages of one and four years old.

Dr. Lisa Gilmer with the Kansas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics encourages families to have a multi-layer safety plan for each member of their family.

"Most of these deaths are preventable," Gilmer said. "Preventing drowning is really a combination of things families can do. The number one most important thing you can do is that every member of the family, adults and children, should know how to swim."

For family members who have yet to take swimming lessons, particularly small children, life jackets need to be used.

"They should wear a coast guard approved life jacket any time they're in or near the water," Gilmer said. "Floaties can be a false sense of security. A child doesn't realize that a reason their head's not going under water is because they have their floaties on, the child gets out to have a snack , doesn't put their floaties back on and in the water they go, and they're at risk of drowning."

Adult supervision is also key in helping to prevent drownings.

"It's not enough just to rely on lifeguards to watch children. Adults need to be with their children in the water, particularly those who can't swim," Gilmer said. "Their job is to keep eyes on every single child that is in the water or near the water for the time that they're assigned as the watcher."

AAP states drowning takes the lives of roughly 1,000 children under 18 each year.

"Another 8,000 or more children present to emergency rooms having been a victim of a drowning and not dying," Gilmer said.

For homeowners who have a pool, having a pool fence will also help reduce the risk.

"Install a four-foot fence surrounding just the pool," Gilmer said. "It's not enough to have a fence around your yard. The fence needs to be around the pool, including a self latching gate."

Many drownings do not occur at times when children are actively planning on swimming.

"Children get close to a pool. They look and see something they want in a pool , they lean forward and fall in and that's silent. It can happen in a matter of seconds, and that child is unsupervised and that child can drown," Gilmer said. " You see in the movies, people floundering and screaming in water, and that's not what's going to happen most of the time. A child can fall in face down and drown within 30 to 60 seconds. It is very quick and it's very quiet and if there's not an adult watching."

For an extra resource pool safety tips, check out HealthyChildren.org