Drowning accidents are a leading cause of death for children age 1 to 4, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. Every year, an average of 120 drownings occur in L.A. County. Most drowning tragedies occur in home swimming pools, but proper precautions should also be taken when near lakes, ponds and, of course, the ocean.
There are several ways to keep your child safe while in the water, and ways to make sure they take the right precautions when they're on their own.
Put your mind at ease and empower your child with the ability to swim. Teaching children how to swim offers a wide range of benefits, the obvious one being they will have a better chance of not drowning. Swimming also provides an excellent cardiovascular workout, strengthens muscles and tendons, builds confidence and can be fun.
Most important, supervise your kids at all times. Don't assume that just because your child took a swimming lesson or uses arm flotation devices that there is no risk of drowning. No matter what your child’s swimming level, he or she needs to be supervised at all times.
You’d be surprised how many accidents happen at pool parties. Almost 70 percent of all drowning accidents occur in backyard swimming pools, according to the Fire Department. Parents often become easily distracted and assume that other parents are watching their kids in the pool. Adults should be designated to watch the children in 15-minute increments, or better yet, a professional lifeguard should be hired for a few hours.
Never let your child swim alone—always use the buddy system. This will help ensure there is always someone looking out for them.
In addition to teaching your kids how to swim, educate them on the importance of following the rules of the pool, such as no diving in shallow water, no running on the deck, no pushing, shoving or hanging onto other swimmers while in the water.
What can you do for yourself? Get CPR-certified. Victims who are rescued from the water need CPR immediately—before the paramedics arrive. It can prevent brain damage and can make the difference between life and death.
By knowing and practicing these safety precautions, you will ensure that you and your family have a fun and safe water experience.
Encino residents can register for CPR, first aid and safety classes offered by the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Red Cross at their many training sites throughout Los Angeles.
The Red Cross also offers free “Citizen CPR” (hands-only CPR) training sessions July 23 and Aug. 20, which will include an hour of instruction in hands-only CPR, controlling external bleeding and managing shock during an emergency.
The courses will take place at the following times on both days: 10:30 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. at the following locations:
Sat. July 23: ABC7 Broadcast Center, 500 Circle Seven Dr., Glendale
Sat., Aug. 20: LA84 Foundation/John C. Argue Swim Stadium (Expo Center), 3980 Bill Robertson Ln., Los Angeles
There are no prerequisites, and there is no age minimum required to participate. Registration is required by calling 800-627-7000. The free classes are offered through the support of Aetna and L.A. Care Health Plan.