Dr KK Aggarwal
With the advent of summer, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has urged all communities to make water safety a No. 1 priority, which includes making swim lessons accessible for everyone.
"This is an essential life skill for children, teens and adults. It's an important part of the 'layers of protection' that families and communities can put in place to protect children and teens around water", says AAP President Kyle Yasuda, MD, FAAP.
The AAP published updated recommendations on drowning prevention in March 2019. It recommends 'layers of protection' including:
· All children and adults should learn to swim. Most children will be developmentally ready for formal swim lessons between ages 1 and 4. Talk with your pediatrician about when your child will be ready.
· Not all swimming lessons are created equal. Choose a program that meets your family and child's needs and skills, and one that will ensure they have basic water safety skills.
· Close, constant, attentive supervision around water is important. Assign an adult 'water watcher,' who should not be distracted by a cell phone, socializing, chores, or drinking alcohol. With young children or poor swimmers, the adult should be within an arm's length, providing constant 'touch supervision.'
· Empty wading pools immediately after use.
· Pools should be surrounded by a four-sided fence, with a self-closing and self-latching gate. Research shows pool fencing can reduce drowning risk by 50%.
· Adults and older children should learn CPR.
· Everyone, children and adults, should wear US Coast Guard-approved life jackets whenever they are in open water, or on watercraft. Small children and non-swimmers should wear life jackets when they are near water and when swimming. Inflatable "floaties" can't be relied upon to protect kids.
· Parents and teens should understand how using alcohol and drugs increases the risk of drowning while swimming or boating.
Padma Shri Awardee
President Elect Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania (CMAAO)
Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications
President Heart Care Foundation of India