Thursday, 16 June 2011
A summer family activity often means swimming at a pool, lake, river or beach. Regardless of the location, the same water safety rules apply. Many things that happen to our children are beyond our control but being safe around water IS entirely in the hands’ of parents. Water safety is a life skill that our children will in turn hand down to their kids. Drowning is the second most common cause of death from injuries among kids under the age of 14. For every child who drowns, another five are hospitalized and another 16 are treated for submersion injuries. Take water safety seriously, teach it to your children and know your child’s safety near water is YOUR responsibility.
Water Safety and the Child with Autism
The National Autism Association writes “tragically, children and adults with autism are often attracted to water sources such as pools, ponds, and lakes. Drowning is a leading cause of death for a child or adult who has autism.» According to the National Autism Association, drowning is the #1 cause of injury-related deaths in children with an autism spectrum disorder. In 2005, 14 children with ASD died from drowning, when these children wandered off and were attracted to the water. Children with ASD do not fear “death” the way we do. At early ages, they do not understand the finality of death nor are they afraid of those things that could cause death, like water.
Facts to Motivate Parents to Teach Water Safety
1. Drowning is usually quick and silent.
2. A child can drown in as little as one inch of water.
3. Drowning can happen so fast — sometimes in less than 2 minutes after a person's head goes under the water.
4. Permanent brain damage occurs within 4-6 minutes.
5. 86% of children who fall into water are wearing all of their clothes.
Families must follow the same basic water safety rules regardless where they are. Then specific water safety precautions must be practiced and taught depending where you are...
A. Never leave a child alone near a body of water, not even for a second. Maintain constant, eyes-on uninterrupted supervision.
B. Do not rely on lifeguards to watch your child. Lifeguards are there to enforce the rules.
C. Teach your kids not to cry for help unless there is an emergency
D. Don't allow gum chewing or eating while swimming — swimmer could choke.
E. Only use flotation devices that are approved.
F. Always use approved life jackets in a boat. A reported 55% of children under 14 who drowned in boating accidents were not wearing life jackets.
G. Do not swim or go on a boat during bad weather or storms.
H. Always put on plenty of sunscreen before you go outside. It's also a good idea to wear sunglasses and a hat to protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays.
Water Safety Around Swimming Pools
Swimming pools are great fun when used well. Gates must surround the pool and no child is permitted inside without an adult present. Always obey pool rules. Check for the pool safety signs about the depth of the water and where to dive. Never run or horse play because a pool's sides and bottom are made of concrete. A slip or fall is painful and may be dangerous.
Water Safety Around Lakes or Rivers
The water in lakes and rivers may be too dark to see the bottom well, therefore wearing protective foot gear is recommended if the child will be wading. This protects the feet from sharp rocks or debris. Also you must warn the child that aquatic plants and even eels or fish might be in the water …better to know than panic because the child thinks a lake monster touched him! Also be prepared to remove a blood sucker (a leech, that sucks blood) quickly with ordinary table salt.
The depth of the water varies depending on rainfall amount and water being allowed to flow from or into other bodies of water by opening or closing dams. Also each winter, ice and storms move the bottom gravel and even big rocks, so do not rely on previous visits to this area and think you know where the SAFE areas are. Each year fallen branches and floating debris sink to the bottom making diving in lakes, rivers and streams even more dangerous.
Water Safety at an Ocean Beach
Splashing, wading, and swimming in the ocean… what a perfect summer activity. To make it safe, try to find a supervised beach. Before going in the water, check for signs/chalkboard or talk to the lifeguard about the tides, strength of the waves, rip currents, jelly fish count, UV index… and adjust your water frolicking accordingly.
Rip currents (also called riptides) are so strong that they can carry a swimmer away from shore before he knows what's happening. If someone is caught in a current, he must swim parallel to the shore (alongside the shore) rather than to the shore until the water stops pulling, then he can swim back to shore. Checking first will prevent this from happening and a dangerous rescue can be avoided.
Parents, be prepared for a lot of standing or walking if the tide is low. Your child may want to wade in deeper water and it could be meters away from the shore… remember stay within sight and REACH of your child. To help on such a day, young children and weak swimmers may wear approved lifejackets.
Learning water safety is key to preventing an emergency in or on the water. By practicing and teaching water safety you are giving your children life skills that will allow them to enjoy each season. They can safely have fun ice skating, boating, fishing and my favourites, canoeing and swimming!
How do you make sure your child with autism understands the dangers of being around bodies of water, from bathtub to the ocean?