Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death in children aged 1-4 in the USA according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with around 360 children dying each year. Thankfully, in Cayman water-related deaths among children are relatively low as children are taught water safety from a young age. However, one should never get complacent as accidents can happen in an instant. With so many children participating in water-related activities, it’s important to stay safe in Cayman’s waters.
Local swim school Sky Blue Aquatics has provided some top tips for keeping you and your family safe around water.
1. Set Strict Limits
Teach children that they are not allowed to enter a pool or the sea without an adult’s permission. Always review the ‘Pool Rules’ with your child before entering the water. For older children, state exactly how deep they are allowed into the sea. It’s recommended that children use flotation devices in the sea such as noodles, swim belts and puddle jumpers as even strong swimmers can get into trouble.
2. Supervise Children
Children should always be supervised when in or near the water. Adults who are supervising children should remain alert, vigilant and never turn away or get distracted, even for a moment. Whenever infants or toddlers are in or around water, an adult should be within arm’s reach; small children can drown in as little as one inch of water.
3. Learn What Drowning Looks Like
Drowning is not the violent, splashing call for help that people expect. When people are struggling to breathe, speech and screaming become secondary. The natural reaction is to extend arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface, as opposed to waving.
4. Learn CPR
Parents need to learn basic first aid, CPR and basic water rescue. Both adults and children should know what to do if they see someone in trouble in the water.
Water Safety courses are available at Sky Blue Aquatics (private and group) and CPR/First Aid courses are offered by the Red Cross and Fitness Connection (private and group). Sky Blue Aquatics also offers Nanny Water Safety Courses to teach nannies about pool safety and how to swim.
SOME COMMON SIGNS OF DROWNING
Enrol kids in swimming lessons to ensure that they are equipped with the skills to swim safely. Babies can start lessons as young as six weeks old with a paediatrician’s approval. Infants cannot swim on their own as they are not strong enough and have not yet developed fine motor skills. However, starting little ones in swim lessons at a young age will get your child comfortable with structured lessons, their teacher and, most importantly, the water.
All swim lessons should include safety survival techniques such as:
In March 2019, a young family were visiting Cayman on holiday. Their 1½ year old daughter, Kathy, was playing by the pool in the condo and fell in. Her parents’ attention had been temporarily diverted and they didn’t notice that she was missing. Fortunately, another young child – Miyah Betty-Ebanks, 3 years old – was nearby and spotted that the infant was in distress. She quickly alerted her mother, who was also near. Even more fortunately, her mother was professionally-trained local Lifeguard Melicia Ebanks. Melicia immediately jumped in and pulled the child out.
Despite the child being blue and unresponsive, Melicia started performing life-saving CPR. Within moments, the child started bringing up water and began to breathe again. She later got the all-clear from a medical professional and suffered no long-term damage. Kathy survived thanks to the quick reactions and powerful skill-set of Melicia and her daughter.
Melicia had been professionally trained for over 30 hours by Senior Lifeguard Craig Amundsen from Oasis Aqua Park. Craig and the team from Oasis are making it their mission to improve the standards of lifeguarding on Cayman and are championing the importance of more hotels and water-based businesses employing fully-trained Lifeguards. For more information on Lifeguard training, email email@example.com.
SWIM SCHOOLS: Fitness Connection and Sky Blue Aquatics both offer mobile swimming instruction with lessons for babies aged six weeks to adults. Private, semi-private and small group lessons are available. Fitness Connection also has its own pool in South Sound. Fitness Connection: Tel: (345) 949 8485, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Web: www.fitness.ky. Sky Blue Aquatics: Tel: (345) 916 0054, Email: email@example.com, Web: www.skyblueaquatics.com.
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