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Water safety urged

June 1, 2012

The Department of Family and Protective Serevices is kicking off its “Watch Kids Around Water” summer awareness campaign. (Courtesy photo)

As temperatures heat up, many area residents will turn their attention to local lakes and swimming pools to try to keep cool. However, according to officials with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, fun in the water can quickly turn deadly without proper supervision.

The DFPS is kicking off a new campaign this year aptly named “Watch Kids Around Water,” which includes a summer-long ad campaign to help educate the public on the importance of supervising children around water, safety tips and other valuable information

“With high temperatures and the summer vacation here, the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) is urging all Texans to be on guard against one of the leading causes of death among infants, toddlers, and young children: accidental drowning,” said Marleigh Meisner, public information officer for DFPS.

“Already, at least 18 children have drowned in Texas this year, and yet the deadliest period for drowning, from Memorial Day through Labor Day, still lies ahead. Each year, DFPS keeps an unofficial count of child drowning deaths. On average, more than 90 kids drown in Texas each year.”

According to DFPS officials, keeping a close eye on children when they are around water is a job everyone should be willing do.

“These are heartbreaking tragedies. But, we can prevent them by never leaving children, especially small children, alone around water,” DFPS Commissioner Howard Baldwin said. “It only takes minutes for a child to drown. So be a lifeguard for all kids and never leave them unsupervised for any length of time.”

Meisner said the first line of defense is being aware of what dangers are nearby, and while the most common ones — swimming pools and lakes — may seem obvious, there are others that require just as much attendance.

“Extra care is needed as Texas families flock to the water to keep cool and have fun during the summer season,” said Meisner. “So far this year, child drowning deaths have occurred mostly in backyard pools and bathtubs. But in past years children have died in lakes, creeks, hot tubs, buckets of water, toilets and even in a septic tank.

“Federal statistics show that children under one year most often drown in bathtubs, buckets or toilets, while children from one to four years old drown most often in residential swimming pools. Most young children who drowned in pools were last seen in the home, had been out of sight less than five minutes and were in the care of one or both parents at the time.”

Meisner said Texas residents can reduce the chances of such a tragedy by following these simple tips:

— Never leave small children alone near any container of water. This includes toilets, tubs, aquariums, or mop buckets.
— Keep bathroom doors closed and secure toilet lids with lid locks.
— Never leave a baby alone in a bath for any reason. Get the things you need before running water. Infants can drown in any amount of water. If you must leave the room, take the child with you.
— Warn babysitters or caregivers about the dangers of water to young children and stress the need for constant supervision.

Make sure small children cannot leave the house through pet doors or unlocked doors and reach pools or hot tubs.

Never leave children alone around water whether it is in a pool, wading pool, drainage ditch, creek, pond or lake.

Constantly watch children who are swimming or playing in water. They need an adult or certified lifeguard watching and within reach.
Secure access to swimming pools. Use fences, self-closing and latching gates, and water surface alarms.

Completely remove the pool cover when the pool is in use.

Store water toys away from the water, when not in use, so they don't attract a small child.

Don’t assume young children will use good judgment and caution around water.

Be ready for emergencies. Keep emergency telephone numbers handy and learn CPR.

Find out if your child's friends or neighbors have pools.

For more information about children and water safety, please visit the “See & Save” website at www.watchkidsaroundwater.org.

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