One adult should be watching children in the pool or spa at all times. Even if there's a lifeguard. Even if the kids can swim. Pledge to use the Water Watchdog system to divide supervision responsibilities; pass on the Watchdog tags when you're ready to switch.
Minnesota drownings decline by 11 fatalities in 2013
Minneapolis, MN- May 15, 2014- There were 29 drowning deaths in Minnesota in 2013, down from 40 drownings in 2012. While the decrease in drownings in encouraging, Abbey's Hope Charitable Foundation would like to remind Minnesotans that all drownings are preventable. May is Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Month, which provides an ideal opportunity for media outlets to remind Minnesotans about the measures they can take to help prevent the preventable during the summer months ahead.
"As public pools begin opening, and as families start heading to the lake this Memorial Day weekend, we would like to remind everyone of the importance of Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Month," said Katey Taylor, co-founder of Abbey's Hope. "29 drownings is 29 too many, and Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Month gives our state residents a reason to remind each other about how we can all stay safe this swim season."
Six of the drowning fatalities were children five years of age or younger. This fact is especially unsettling for Taylor since May is also the birth month of her daughter, Abbey Taylor. Abbey died at the age of six in 2008 as a result of injuries sustained from an improperly maintained pool drain.
Other than congenital anomalies (birth defects), drowning is responsible for more deaths among children ages 1-4 than any other cause.
During Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Awareness Month, Abbey's Hope Charitable Foundation will be joining public health officials, law enforcement, emergency responders, government agencies and other non-profits to remind parents about critical safety tips that can mean the difference between life and death.
Parents can do their part in these four ways:
Teach swimming and lifesaving skills - Make sure children know how to swim, float, tread water and get in and out of the pool safely. Take classes in First Aid and CPR.
Install barriers - Backyard pools should be fenced on all sides with four-to-five foot high fence. Gates should be self-latching and locking. Spas and hot tubs should be covered and locked when not in use.
Be vigilant- Make sure an adult is watching children in the pool, spa and open bodies of water at all times.
Avoid dangerous drains - If loose, missing or broken drain covers are spotted, spa operators should be notified immediately. Tie up long hair or secure with a swim cap and warn children to stay away from drains or other openings.
The Taylors advocate that parents share water supervision responsibilities with other parents. Abbey's Hope created a "Water Watchdog Tag" system to clarify the role: the supervising parent or adult wears the "Water Watchdog Tag" until he or she passes the responsibility and the tag on to the next parent or adult. (To receive a Water Watchdog Tag, go to abbeyshope.org and sign the pledge to protect children.) The adult wearing the tag pledges:
- To maintain constant visual contact with the children in the designated groups (even if a life guard is present).
- Not to drink alcohol, talk on the phone, socialize or read while watching children.
- To keep a phone near the water for emergency purposes.
- Remain by the water until relieved by a new Water Watchdog.
About Abbey's Hope:
Abbey’s Hope Charitable Foundation is a Minnesota nonprofit organization named after Abbey Taylor, the Edina, Minn., 6-year-old who died in 2008 as a result of injuries sustained from an improperly maintained pool drain cover.
The foundation’s goal is to:
- Promote awareness of and education related to child safety issues, including educating pool owners, operators, inspectors, and the general public about the dangers of pool entrapment, evisceration and drowning and the need for physical inspections of pool equipment.
- Work with the pool and spa industry to improve the design of its products, packaging and warning labels, and assist in the development of product safety standards related to such products.
- Identify and provide support and assistance to organizations and programs that help educate parents, children, and pool and spa manufacturers about the prevention of entrapment and traditional forms of drowning.
Find out more about Abbey’s Hope at http://abbeyshope.org.