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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Fire Prevention 24-7 – Child water safety


As the calendar and weather are transitioning toward summer, it’s the time of the year to talk about accidental drowning and how to prevent it from happening. It only takes seconds for a child to drown while their caregiver is distracted by a phone, doorbell or other children.

According to DCFS, drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for children ages one to four. For every child who drowns, five more need emergency medical care for injuries that can result in life-changing brain damage. Childhood drownings occur in backyard swimming pools, bathtubs, baby pools, decorative garden ponds, lakes and rivers, and even buckets. The good news is that drowning tragedies can be prevented by constantly supervising children when they are near water.

Baby pool safety

Always keep children within arm’s reach when they are in a baby pool. Do not read a book, talk on cell phone or any other distractions while supervising toddlers or babies in a pool. Empty the baby pool immediately after use and store it upside-down. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security because of the shallowness of baby pools. Small children drown in as little as one inch of water.

Bathroom safety

Never leave a young child alone in a bathtub or allow a sibling to watch a younger child. If you need to leave the bathroom, take your child with you. Infant bathtubs and bathtub seats are bathing aids, not safety devices. Keep the toilet lid down and use a toilet seat lock to keep children from opening the lid.

Lake and river safety

Children should always wear Coast Guard-approved life vests when swimming in lakes and rivers. Swimming across a lake or river is not like swimming in a pool, and it’s easy to misjudge the water. Pool toys are not made to be used in rivers. Teach older children that it is unsafe to dive head-first into the water because it may be too shallow, and to stay out of murky or fast-moving water – there may be hidden dangers in the water that can’t be seen by standing on the shore.

Bucket safety

Five-gallon buckets of water pose a threat to babies and toddlers who may topple into buckets while playing and are unable to free themselves because they lack coordination and upper-body strength. After you wash your car, empty and store all buckets out of children’s reach.

This will be the first summer in a couple of years that will feel normal. Let’s stay vigilant and not let our guards down when it comes to the safety of our children. I’d also like to remind you to give your smoke alarms a test. Enjoy the month, and as always #StaySafeNaperville.

Soraya McLaughlin
Soraya McLaughlin
Soraya McLaughlin is the Naperville Fire Department Community Education Specialist. Contact her via email at mclaughlins@naperville.il.us.