Keeping Kids Safe Around the Water

Hey guys, it’s getting warmer and that means we come to the summer in Baldwin County and the enjoyment of the beautiful water.  But with the fun comes some responsibility to prevent accidents for kids. Today we will talk about water safety around your house, the pool, and on a boat.

One area of water safety that is always overlooked is sources of water, and therefore potential injuries, around the house. Kiddie pools, buckets, overturned trash can tops, old tires—basically anything can be a receptacle for water. And it only takes a few inches of water for an infant or toddler to fall in and drown. The most important thing to do is walk around your house and property often to pour out these sources, especially after a rain. (This also helps prevent mosquitoes!). And watch the neighbor’s yard as well, since a kiddie pool can be left out and be very attractive to your toddler.

The other area around your house or neighborhood that is potentially dangerous is swimming pools. Let’s review some safety tips.  Always know where your children are. I can’t stress this enough. Most accidents occur when children are “being supervised,” but end up near the pool unexpectedly.  And over 75% of submersion injuries occur between ages 1 and 3 years old.  Be sure that either your pool or the neighbors’ has a locked gate with limited access. Also, if you have a door that opens onto the pool deck, install an alarm that will sound if the door is opened without you knowing. If you have babysitters, be sure that they can swim and know CPR. Remove all chemicals and equipment from the pool area during playtime and remove all toys from the grounds when not in use. A fun toy can be very appealing and therefore dangerous to a toddler near the pool. Be sure to have flotation devices available for all swimmers, but they cannot be relied upon to keep the kids safe, even for just a second.

Boating is a great activity to do with your family, but please consider these words of advice. Make sure all persons (young and old) are fitted with approved life jackets. Even the most experienced boater or sailor can capsize and/or fall overboard. Be sure that a licensed boater handles the watercraft at all times and understands the markers in the bay and near piers. Be very careful when skiing and tubing, especially near piers. Of course alcohol and boating can be a deadly mix. These rules also apply to personal watercraft as well (Seadoos, Jet Skis, etc.).

The last question I get often is “When can I take my infant on a boat?” Well the answer depends on a lot of things. Be sure the water temperature is not too cold and that the area of boating is very smooth with minimal waves. Of course, make sure to cover your infant with sunscreen and a hat and bring along extra sunscreen. Also, it is an Alabama state law that every child under the age of eight wears an approved life jacket, even for young infants. And, have an adult assigned to the child at all times. So the answer is 1) when the conditions are right, 2) all safety precautions have been met, and 3) when you are comfortable with your child being there.  As always, have fun this summer, but do it responsibly. Be sure to wear sun screen and keep in mind that cell phones and the Bay water don’t like each other!

Robert L. Rux, M.D.

Robert L. Rux, M.D. is a Board Certified Pediatrician at Magnolia Springs Pediatrics. Originally from Mobile, he attended medical school at The University of Alabama School of Medicine (UAB) and completed residency at The Children’s Hospital of Alabama (UAB). He is married to Jaime and has three children, Adler, Walker and Mary McAtee.