How to keep Louisiana children safe around the water
Recent report shows child drownings increased by 60% in 2020
Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Drowning deaths among children were on a downward trend for about five years in Louisiana, until 2020. With a 60% increase, it was one of the deadliest years in recent history.
For national water safety month, the Louisiana Department of Health and a Lake Charles swim instructor gave some tips on how to prevent an accident.
“Waters all around here in Southwest Louisiana, and our kiddos need to know what to do,” said Christina Bazinet.
Summer break is almost here, meaning more kids are looking to cool off in the pool or area waterway. But a new report from the Louisiana Department of Health shows a rise in child drownings.
In Louisiana, drowning was the third leading cause of injury-related death in children ages 0-14 for the 2017-2019 period, according to the most recent Louisiana Child Death Review Report from the Louisiana Department of Health’s Bureau of Family Health.
It says inability to swim, lack of supervision, and unfenced pools are top causes of drownings among babies and children younger than 15.
“Pool fences, secured latches, and swimming lessons are 100% extremely important. Also if you are at a party that has a pool or a body of water, always assign an adult to be an active watcher of that body of water and of the children swimming,” said Bazinet.
Lake Charles ISR teacher Christina Bazinet said while these numbers are shocking, there are ways parents can help, including swim lessons from a young age.
“We pretty much train children to be aquatic problem solvers. If they find water alone, our younger ones learn to roll back and float and wait for somebody to hopefully come and grab them out of the water,” said Bazinet.
Bazinet teaches ISR, or infant swimming resources, to children from about six months old, to about six years.
“Our older kiddos learn the entire swim, float, swim sequence. If they fall into a pool you know, they’ll learn to get to an edge to get to a step, anything to get themselves out, or to just lay back, float for a minute, catch their breath, anything they can do to continue on,” said Bazinet.
Bazinet said while children may not always take to swimming lessons right away, they are incredibly important.
“I always tell my parents, a crying baby is a breathing baby. That’s all we want, is for our kids to know what to do if they find water,” said Bazinet.
Of course, swimming lessons aren’t for every family. The Department of Health also recommends taking CPR classes, and wearing U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets.
Bazinet said an easy way to get children acclimated to the water at home, is to let the water run over their face during bath time. She also recommended locking any doggy-doors and having child-proofed door knobs to help ensure children do not wander outside into a backyard pool.
“Tragically, the number of children in Louisiana we have lost to drowning continues to increase,” said State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter. “I urge everyone to follow a few simple, but critical steps to keep you and your children safe around the water we all love to enjoy.”
Here is the full list of recommendations from LDH:
- Watch children when they are in or around water at all times; avoid getting distracted.
- Teach children how to swim and water survival skills.
- Take CPR classes. Visit cpr.heart.org to find a class near you.
- If you own a pool or spa, install layers of protection, including a four-sided fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate.
- Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments.
- Wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when boating or participating in other water activities.
- Swim in designated swimming areas and use extreme caution around natural bodies of water which may have unpredictable currents and undertow.
The color of your child’s swimwear also matters. ALIVE Solutions tested different color suits in water to show visibility:
PoolSafely.gov has brochures, Water Watcher cards, fact sheets, social media tools, videos and much more.
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