As the warm weather arrives, state health officials are urging parents to help prevent drownings this summer by better supervising and taking more safety precautions when young children are around water.
"Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 1 to 14," said Barb Bailey, an injury prevention specialist with the Colorado SAFE KIDS Coalition, which is based at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Bailey said the majority of drownings and near drownings takes place in residential swimming pools and open water sites.
"Approximately 300 children in the United States, ages four and under drown in residential swimming pools per year," she said.
However, Bailey also said that children can drown in as little as one inch of water, making wading pools, bathtubs, buckets, diaper pails, toilets, spas and hot tubs risks for drowning.
To avoid drownings, Bailey advises parents to take the following water safety steps to help assure a fun summer season:
• Supervision: Drownings typically occur when a child is left unattended or during a brief lapse in supervision. Never leave a child unsupervised in or around any body of water. Adults can take turns as a designated "water watcher," whose sole responsibility is to actively supervise children in or near the water. Actively supervising means cutting out the common distractions like eating, reading, talking to others, talking on the phone or napping.
• Environment: Empty all containers immediately after use and store out of reach. Install four-sided isolation fencing, at least five feet high and equipped with self-closing and self-latching gates, around a home pool or spa. Fencing could prevent an estimated 50-90 percent of residential pool drownings.
• Gear: Use properly fitting life vests in and around water, especially when boating, riding in a personal watercraft and participating in water sports. It is estimated that 85 percent of boating related drownings could have been prevented if the victim had been wearing a personal floating device.
• Education: Enroll children in swimming lessons with a certified instructor. Research indicates, nearly three-quarters of drowning victims did not know how to swim.
• Be Prepared: Learn CPR and keep rescue equipment, a telephone and emergency numbers at poolside.
For more information, contact Bailey at (303) 692-2589.