“Layers of protection” is a term used to define and classify the majority of strategies directly affecting aquatic environments in their quest to prevent childhood drowning.
Drowning remains a significant public health concern as it is the leading cause of unintentional injury deaths for children 1-4 years, the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths for children 1-14 years, and is the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury deaths for all ages in the United States (CDC, WISQARS, 2005).
Water-related injuries also affect a significant number of American children. It is estimated that as many as twenty percent of drowning victims suffer severe, permanent neurological disability. Knowing what to do in a water emergency, including how to help someone in trouble in the water safely, can help reduce these numbers.
The following layers of protection are intended to minimize injury should a child gain access to the water and are meant to be used immediately in the event of such an emergency.
Keep a phone poolside (a land line with the pool’s physical address is best) for emergency use so that an adult can call for help if needed. (Calling from a cell phone won’t automatically tell the 911 operator the location.)
Anyone who lives in a home with a pool should learn CPR and rescue breathing. Ensure that babysitters have current CPR training and certification. CPR training and certification should be refreshed every one to two years, depending upon the certification agency, or more frequently if there have been recent changes in recommendations.
In a group, such as a pool party, at least one person should know CPR. Anyone who is the sole supervisor of a child should learn CPR and rescue breathing.
Water Safety and Rescue Course
Pool owners and operators should enroll in a local water safety course that teaches proper rescue techniques. Course should include hands-on practice using a shepherd’s hook and life-saving ring.
Organizations like the American Red Cross offer water safety and rescue courses and certifications.
Keep a life-saving ring and shepherd’s hook at poolside.
CPR instructions should be posted poolside.
Know how to use the rescue equipment and perform CPR.
If a child is missing, always check the pool first. Seconds count. If a child cannot be located immediately, call 9-1-1 and enlist assistance in the search.
Read the complete Layers of Protection Position Paper for more information on the steps you can take to prevent drowning.
Sign up for the NDPA Newsletter for more information on water safety awareness events, resources and more ways you can contribute to prevent drowning.