Is your perception of water putting your child’s life in danger?
Water has a reputation of tranquility and relaxation, but it is the greatest threat your child faces until they are 5 years old and the second greatest threat they face until they are 15 years old. Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children 1 to 4 years according to the Center for Disease Control.
The pool is viewed as a place for splashing and playing for the kids, while parents many times view it as an opportunity for some much-needed down time. Throw a puddle jumper on and turn to conversations or hop onto social media – these are things we are seeing at pools around the country. This is not bad or lazy parenting as parents don’t even realize they are endangering their children. It’s an awareness issue.
It is normal, a learned way of thinking from friends and family who unknowingly pass on this innocent ignorance. But it is time for change. It is time for those that have been given the gift of awareness to stand up and educate. Of course, not in a condescending or shaming way as it is not the parent’s fault for not being given life-saving information on water safety. There have been many who have dropped the ball in providing awareness, not the least of which are swim schools. We’ve been shouting the right message the wrong way for years. We have been using our megaphone to our customers and whoever will listen that happens to be within earshot, while car seat manufacturers have passed legislation to increase vehicle safety on a national level.
What if every new parent left the hospital with free information on drowning prevention? What if every daycare sent home free water safety brochures? Or every pre-school student about Water Safety before they learned Stop-Drop & Roll? *Side note, I really thought that would be more useful in my life based on how often it was brought up in elementary school*. The AAP recommends swim lessons at 1-year-old now, so pre-school may see a bit late in first sharing water safety education, but it would be better than going through school not hearing about it at all. Please know I am not pointing fingers at our pediatricians or educators; those of us with the information and passion for water safetly have not done an adequate job in partnering with these groups of guides that have the widest reach of influence in order to maximize the impact. Again, it’s time for change.
So, I’ve shared the problem – our mindset about water for unskilled swimmers is all wrong. There comes a time in a swimmer’s journey that they have the skillset and the confidence for the tranquil mindset to not be dangerous. However, as parents, while in our care we must provide every measure of protection possible for our children. Now that you know the problem, what is the solution?
The answer on a personal level is adding LAYERS OF DROWNING PREVENTION.
But what about the BIG picture? What about changing our community? What about preventing drowning systematically at the state and national levels? What if we could change the way that the world thinks and make every child in every country safer?
Every journey starts with a single step. This is a movement. It is set in motion and is a cause you can join at any time. My call to action is this – we must start the conversation. Start the conversation with your pediatrician, your daycare, and your school teachers. Would they consider passing out brochures? Would they consider hosting water safety presentations? Would they consider just listening to what the problem is and what can be done about it?
The solutions to the problem has already been discovered and the resources that offer the solutions are readily available for free. It is now just a matter of getting those resources in the hands of those individuals with the most impact in our communities. We are simply asking for your partnership in connecting these strategic partners to resource providers such as National Drowning Prevention Association, Pool Safely, Parents Against Childhood Drowning, Stop Drowning Now, End Drowning Now, and Oklahoma Swim Academy.
Drowning is 100% preventable. Let’s turn that statistic into reality by taking a small step forward in our roles and working together as an army of ambassadors to bring about change in saving as many lives as possible.
Written by Brian Bachman, General Manager of OSA