Drowning: Are your children at risk?

Finding a child unresponsive in the water is a parent’s worst nightmare. It can happen very quickly and only takes a very small amount of water. Sadly, drowning is one of the leading causes of unintentional death for children ages 1-4 in Canada and it’s preventable.

Whether children are playing on the pool deck, by a lake, river or stream, at the beach or in a bathtub, the absence of adult supervision is a factor in most drowning incidents involving young children. The Red Cross recommends active supervision any time kids are near or around water. In 19% of water-related fatalities, people fell into the water unexpectedly so risks aren't limited to when you're out swimming or boating.

There are a number of ways to reduce risks for children, including ensuring backyard pools are secured by adequate barriers, emptying out portable pools when they are not in use, making sure everyone is wearing properly fitted PDFs when out boating, learning how to swim and knowing what to do in an emergency, and teaching kids not to go in the water unsupervised. It's important to remember that drowning is a silent killer. Noise will not alert you to trouble.

In recent weeks, many people have also been talking about secondary and dry drowning, after this mom blogged about her child’s near drowning incident. Parents can look for warning signs of secondary drowning such as shortness of breath, changes in breathing, abnormal skin colour (pale or clammy), and shivering.

Check out these Red Cross resources and tips to help keep everyone safe in and around the water this summer. You can also enter a contest to win a family pack of Mustang lifejackets.

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