As children go from school to summer vacation, parents simply go from one set of worries to another. Old concerns of school safety are replaced by new ones camping safety, recreation, nutrition.
While compiling their lists of "things to fret about today," however, all parents should include "water safety" at the top. Statistics show that young people and water are often a deadly mix.
Between 2003 and 2005, 35 children younger than 19 died by drowning in Utah. Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children under 15. When it comes to kids, where there's water, there's danger. Swimming pools, irrigation ditches, even a bucket can pose a threat to a young life. More harrowing is the fact many of those children were being "supervised" by adults when they died. And that concern along with others has triggered a summer campaign sponsored by the Primary Children's Medical Center: "Don't just be there, be aware."
Some cautions are common-sense: When your children are in the water, watch them don't read or talk with neighbors.
Make sure your children have life jackets (not air-filled swimming aids).
Other ideas include not letting your children chew gum or eat while in the water and implementing a "buddy system" having the children monitor each other.
Learning CPR is another plus.
Adults are not immune to water tragedies either, of course. And when they put themselves at risk, children are often with them. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the four main causes of drowning among adults are (1) not wearing a life jacket, (2) abusing alcohol, (3) overestimating one's swimming skills and (4) hypothermia.
Each year several thousand children are treated in hospitals for almost drowning, which leaves many of them with breathing and brain disorders for the rest of their lives.
Water risks never can be eliminated. But with a little care and foresight, parents can trim the number of tragedies that ruin families and lives each summer by thinking ahead and using common sense not only when their children enter the water, but when the parents do, as well.