Summer is a great time to be outside and enjoy the sun and warm weather. However, it is also the time of year when most drownings occur, so it is important to be proactive when it comes to water safety. To address the rise in drowning incidents the NDPA launched its Water Safety Champion program which provides resources and education to help prevent drownings.
By becoming a Water Safety Champion you can let everybody know that you are invested in the safety and wellbeing of your entire community. How? By promoting the best water safety practices that help prevent unintentional drowning incidents.
Even though drowning is a leading cause of death for children aged 1-4, it is also completely preventable. This is why it’s essential to prevent drowning incidents year round.
Drowning can happen anywhere there is water – a pool, bathtub, lake, river, or even a bucket of water. Drowning can also occur at any time or season, making becoming a Water Safety Champion much more critical. It is a life-long commitment that allows no breaks, no matter what time of year.
So let’s get started!
Make it Official: sign up to become a Water Safety Champion.
Who Can Be A Water Safety Champion?
Everyone can and should become a Water Safety Champion.
Drowning doesn’t discriminate between race, gender or age. It can happen to the best of parents in the best of families any time there is access to water.
By becoming a Water Safety Champion you will:
- Promote water safety best practices in your community and help ensure everyone knows how to stay safe around water.
- Teach children never to go near or enter the water without an adult present.
- If you see someone in trouble in the water call for help, and if you are able jump in and save them yourself – every second counts when someone is drowning.
Just go on over to ndpa.org/champion/#championform and sign up. Download your certificate, fill it out and print it to officially become a Water Safety Champion.
Businesses and Organizations can also become Water Safety Champions.
As you know, construction of backyard pools is on the rise – 2020 saw a record 23% increase in ownership. While this statistic is an undeniable win for the industry, it also brings tragedy. Drowning incidents among children have also increased.
Becoming a Water Safety Champion is a smart business decision, showing current and future clients your commitment to water safety. Show your potential clients know you are more than just a business to them. You’re a partner providing them peace of mind and helping them enjoy their pool or spa to the fullest. Sign up today!
What Do I Have To Do When I Become A Water Safety Champion?
Learn and implement layers of protection
As we said before, drowning is preventable, but specific strategies are needed to ensure that our kids remain safe when in or near water. These strategies are known as layers of protection.
Parents, caregivers, residential pool owners, aquatic facility owners, managers, and operators should use “layers of protection” to provide a system of increased security to prevent unauthorized access to bodies of water, especially important for children.
Drowning happens quickly and quietly, so no single layer of safety is enough. Multiple layers are necessary to help reduce the risk. This means that the following strategies are to be used constantly and simultaneously to help keep children safe:
Since you can’t always be around to keep an eye on your pool or spa, it’s important to use physical barriers to restrict unauthorized access. This layer of protection comes into play in the pool or spa’s entire surrounding area and the water.
Four-sided fencing with self-closing, self-latching gates, door and window alarms, and safety covers can help make sure kids don’t get to the water unsupervised.
Whether you’re using your pool or not, it’s always important to know where young children are and never leave them unattended. Close, constant, and capable adult supervision anytime children are in or around water is paramount to avoid drowning incidents.
● Water Competency
Parents and caregivers should equip every child and adult with the skills to protect themselves in water. With the proper instruction, children can gain the competence, confidence, and respect they need to create a life-long love for the water.
Ensure every family member learns to swim, so they at least achieve the following skills of water competency:
- Step or jump into the water over their head.
- Return to the surface and float or tread water for one minute.
- Turn around in a full circle and find an exit.
- Swim 25 yards to the exit.
- Exit from the water. If in a pool, be able to exit without using the ladder.
● Life Jackets
Use life jackets when appropriate. Life jackets protect you when you’re not expecting to be in the water, especially around open water and while boating. All life jackets should be tested and approved by the USCG.
● Emergency Preparation
Drowning is silent and happens fast. Knowing CPR (w/ rescue breaths) and basic water rescue can make the difference between life and death.
Using all layers of protection together is the only way to reduce the risk of drowning. You never know which layer will save a life.
Know the signs of drowning
It is essential to know what drowning looks like so that we can react swiftly and avert any sad outcomes.
Most people do not know that most drowning victims never have the chance to call for help. Drowning is fast and silent. That is why we must always be attentive to any signs of distress when children or adults are in the water. Swimmers in trouble or distress must be rescued quickly to avoid a tragedy.
Here are the signs that someone might be drowning that you should be on the look-out for:
● The head instinctively tilts back as they try to keep the airways clear of water, and the body is in a vertical position
● They usually face the shore in open water such as a lake, river, or beach.
● There are signs of movement but no signs of progress in the water.
● The arms are out to the side, pressing downward.
● There may be a ladder-climbing motion, hands out of the water, or maybe lightly breaking the surface.
● There is a wide-eyed, panicked expression on their face as they gasp for air.
Once it becomes clear that someone is drowning or in distress, take action and scream for a lifeguard or someone to help. Whatever you do, do not put yourself in any sort of danger in the process.
Source: The Kenosha Safety Around Water Coalition
Use and Share Water Safety Educational Resources
Water safety education aims to prevent drowning incidents by teaching kids, teens, and even adults how to be safe near and in the water. Water safety education also includes learning what to do should an accident take place. This knowledge can certainly make the difference between fatal and non-fatal drowning incidents.
Ideally, children’s water safety education should begin at home, and as early as possible. Children younger than school age can begin to learn many water safety basics. You can start by using some of these fun and free resources.
If you are a teacher, we encourage you to find ways to add water safety education to your curriculum here.
Avoid using misnomers
There are certain terms related to drowning that are commonly used in the media, and hence by the public, that shouldn’t be.
Terms such as ‘dry,’ ‘wet,’ ‘near,’ ‘silent,’ and ‘secondary’ drowning are all misnomers that should not be used when speaking of drowning incidents.
Using inconsistent, inaccurate, or medically inappropriate terms can have the unnecessary effect of instilling fear in the public and causing the wrong diagnosis for real medical issues. According to the World Health Organization, “… Effective prevention of drowning requires programs and policies that address known risk factors”, for which “… a simple but comprehensive deﬁnition is needed.”
So, in order to indeed face the problem of drowning successfully, we must refrain from using terms that are misleading and compel others to do the same, starting with the media. There is a common practice of promoting specific flotation devices as aids and protection for children when they are in the water. This is far from the case and should be addressed so that those types of messages are no longer shared or are more accurately worded, at least. It is to this end that the NDPA has created the End The Misinformation Letter.
Advocate for water safety in your community
Harness all your water safety knowledge and share it with other members of your community. Create community task forces and help make your community safer!
By learning and spreading the word about water safety and drowning prevention, you can help save lives. Water safety is everyone’s responsibility. Take the pledge to be a Water Safety Champion today and help spread the word about water safety and drowning prevention. United, we can prevent the tragedy of drowning!
Become a Water Safety Champion today!