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 June 2020, a family’s nanny, Sheillah, went swimming with their 1.5 year old son and 3.5 year old daughter. It was no different to what they might do any other day, however in a matter of minutes Sheillah was found at the bottom of the pool by the neighbours.
When the family ran down to the pool, their daughter was in the pool hanging on to the edge of the deep end screaming for Sheillah to open her eyes, and their son was walking along the pool side also screaming and crying for her, while neighbours were pulling her out of the pool.
Sheillah had one of the kindest and most beautiful souls of anyone they have ever met. Sheillah was a daughter, a sister, an aunt and a friend. She was only 29 years old and she had a vision and a promising and full future ahead of her.
In her honour and to bring awareness to water safety, the family and Sky Blue Aquatics has launched the fundraising initiative ‘Swim for Sheillah’ and will be offering swimming assessments for caregivers, nannies, or helpers who would like to have their swimming level and strengths assessed. The aim of this initiative is to ensure that every caregiver has access to a swim assessment. After the initial assessment, the instructors will then determine the best course of action. Please contact Kristin Koopman at email@example.com for more information, to register for a swimming assessment or to donate.
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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