Good news: in less than 24 hours we’ll officially hit the summer solstice, and three blissful months of pool parties, beach vacations, and trips to the lake will ensue. But with all the memories to be made there comes an important, albeit stressful reality — drowning is the leading cause of injury death in children ages 1 to 4. Not the most comforting statistic, right? We called Laura Metro, mother of a drowning survivor and founder of CPR Party™ to give us some tips on how to safely enjoy the water this summer.
Laura describes water safety measures as “layers of protection,”and, plot twist: CPR is the last one. “There are many things parents can and should be doing to prevent the need for CPR in the first place,” she says. First up? Safety. If you have a pool, be sure a self-latching gate surrounds it, and equip the pool with an alarm and pool cover. Any doors leading to the pool should also be alarmed, and toys are never to be left in the pool. Never underestimate a toddler’s curiosity or potential to have a lapse in judgement (we’re talking about toddlers, after all). If your child is ever missing, the first place to check is the pool, the hot tub, the lake, pond or stream. “Run, don’t walk,” Laura says. “When it comes to drowning, seconds matter.” Don’t have a body of water on your property? Still have to be careful: things like water tables, blow up pools, even buckets need to be emptied and put away after use. Children have drowned in sand pails filled with rain water, and the truth is, it only takes an inch of water for a child to drown.
Layer two: teach your children well. From an early age show your child how to respect (not fear) the water, not only by swimming together, but through conversations, books, and online materials on water safety. Laura says one of the most important things a parent can do is begin swim lessons at six months, and in those lessons the priority should be teaching babies to float on their back. Life vests should always be used in open water, even when a child has learned how to swim.
Finally, have a plan in place with your partner, and give very explicit directions to any caregivers. Can your caregiver swim? Do they know how to administer CPR? Do you have a crisis plan? “The first instruction is the most simple,” Laura says. “If an accident ever occurs with a caregiver, tell them to call 911 and then call you.” She continues to stress that every second counts. If you do have a pool, give strict instructions to anyone working on or around the house (a landscaper or pool servicer, for example) of your pool safety procedures, like always closing the gate or covering the pool. Laura makes a point to mention that anytime you’re off your routine is the time to pay extra close attention. At the beach or public pool, feel empowered to ask what type of training the lifeguards have, and gain a sense of awareness of your surroundings: know where the entrance and exit are located, where the AED is located, and the name and address of your location. If you’re staying at a friend or relative’s house with any type of water on the property, ask what precautions they have in place, and make a plan accordingly. The final part of the plan? “Learn CPR and crisis management,” she says. “That’s where we come in.”
Laura founded CPR Party™ in 2012 after her son survived a non-fatal drowning incident at a community pool. He was administered CPR and survived after being in a coma for two days. CPR Party™ was conceived as a way to empower parents and caregivers with the lifesaving skills of CPR, AED and water safety education in fun, fast environment. The basics: you throw a party with at least 10 friends, and during the course of the event, you partake in an hour-long session on adult, child and infant CPR and water safety. You’ll leave with something much more powerful than tupperware — the power to save a life. To host your own CPR Party™, visit thecprparty.org.