Drowning is the No. 1 cause of accidental death for toddlers age 1 to 4 in the U.S. Shockingly, of that group, 70 percent of children were in the care of at least one parent at the time of drowning. Unfortunately, Tracy is not immune to this tragic statistic.
The way to prevent accidental drowning is to educate our community through the Water Watchers program.
Water Watchers promotes drowning prevention nationally by teaching the importance of having adult supervision while children are swimming, installing barriers around swim areas in the home and teaching children and adults how to swim and perform CPR.
Water safety can be summarized simply as the ABCs:
A is for adult supervision
Small children drown without a sound. You will not hear any splashing or cries for help. If you can’t find your child, check the pool first.
Any time children are in a pool, one adult should be designated whose only job is to watch them. That person can be given a Water Watcher tag on a lanyard to wear by the pool. If the watcher needs relief, the tag should be given to another adult who can perform the job.
Older children should not be given the job, as they are too young to understand the importance of watching the pool constantly.
B is for barriers
The more difficult it is for a child to reach an unattended pool, the better.
Barriers include devices such as pool fencing, door and window alarms, pool covers and self-closing, self-latching devices for doors, windows and gates near pools. There are companies that sell and install pool barriers.
C is for classes
Children should learn how to swim as early as possible. Children who can swim should still be supervised, however.
Have the whole family learn CPR. Children as young as 10 can learn basic CPR, according to the American Heart Association.
Childhood drowning is tragic and preventable. By following the ABCs of water safety, we can accomplish our goal of having no more childhood drownings in Tracy.
To summarize, the steps are (a) to have an adult wear a Water Watchers tag while supervising the pool; (b) to have barriers surrounding backyard pools, including fences, gates and alarms; and (c) to have your family take classes to learn how to swim and perform CPR.
If you would like more information, please feel free to call your Tracy Fire Department at 831-6700 — or, better yet, visit any fire station or our administration building at 835 Central Ave. for a free Water Watchers brochure or tag.
• This is an occasional column in Our Town written by local safety officers. Sean Butler, a Tracy Fire Department engineer, runs the department’s drowning prevention program, Water Watchers.