These hot and humid days attract many youngsters and adults to long awaited outdoor activities like refreshing pool days and scenic bike rides. With appropriate precautions, parents can ensure a thrilling and safe summer for their kids.
Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death in children ages 1-14. And for every death, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of emergency room visits for submersion injuries, most occurring in residential pools. Inflatable pools can be just as dangerous. Widely available, these pools can hold hundreds of gallons of water. Since most have no safety features and are too large to drain after use, they pose significant risk when left unattended. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates a yearly average of 390 deaths are attributed to drowning in a swimming pool or spa, and 35 of those pediatric drowning deaths are related to inflatable pools.
Multiple steps should be taken to reduce the risk of injuries and drownings. Some safety tips, according to Consumer Reports and the CPSC, include:
- Never leave children unsupervised in or around water—not even for a moment. Young children can drown in just inches of water, simply by falling headfirst into a bucket or container. Designate a “water watcher,” someone who remains undistracted and concentrates on supervision.
- Use barriers around pools. Install an enclosed isolation fence, with self-closing and self-latching gates. Remove ladders from above ground pools and use pool covers. Alarms are now required on all new and remodeled pools in New York State.
- For small “kiddie” pools, drain after each use and turn upside down.
- Avoid entrapment. Make sure any pool drains have proper and functioning safety covers, or a release system.
- Avoid consuming alcohol before swimming and while watching kids at the pool. Alcohol slows your reaction time and affects your balance and judgment. About half of all drownings of people over age 14 were associated with alcohol and/or drug use.
Remember, drowning can be silent. Children often slip silently under the water without splashing or calling for help. If your child has wandered away, check the pool first to avoid losing precious time if CPR becomes necessary.
Unlike water safety, bicycle safety can be greatly enhanced with one simple action- wearing a properly fitting bicycle helmet. Helmets offer protection for both collisions and falls, so it’s important to wear a helmet at all times- even just riding in the driveway. For riders 13-years and younger, helmets are required by law in New York State. Facts provided by the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute further highlight the need to wear a helmet:
- 846 bicyclists died on US roads in 2019 and 97% of them were not wearing helmets.
- From January 2006 through December 2015, more than 2.2 million children ages 5-17 were treated in US hospital emergency departments for bicycle-related injuries. This averages to 608 cases per day, or 25 every hour.
- Non-helmeted riders are 14 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than helmeted riders.
- An estimated 45-80% of cyclists’ brain injuries can be prevented with helmet use.
- Helmet usage varies greatly among different sectors: Approximately 80% of bicycle commuters wear them—only 10% of rural and inner-city children do.
“Taking the proper safety measures around water and wearing bicycle helmets are top seasonal priorities,” says Marla Behler, Director of the Child Advocacy Center of Putnam County. “Injuries are a risk at any age, but steps taken by parents and guardians can greatly reduce these risks.”
For more information on swimming safety:
For more information on bicycle helmets and safety: