It doesn’t matter whether the kids in your care are casual swimmers or seasoned water-lovers. Nor does it matter if they take to the water for sports and fun, or participate in aquatic activities for therapeutic reasons. What matters is that, as caregivers, you are responsible for their safety while they are involved in water events. It’s always Safety First! And Montgomery childcare centers instill those watchwords in all school age programs where water events occur.
Glaring Numbers that Need Watching
According to the Childrens Safety Network (CSN), there are nearly 3,700 unintentional drowning-related deaths recorded annually in the U.S. Over 24% of those (more than 900) involve children and adolescents between ages 0 to 19. These are scary numbers, but they’re even scarier for caregivers of younger children.
CSN’s data indicates that accidental drowning is the leading cause of death amongst children aged between 1 and 4-years old. They’re the third leading cause of unintentional injury death in older child populations, aged 5 to 19-years. This makes it more imperative for parents and caregivers of younger children to be watchful and sensitive to water safety.
When near water, child caregivers shouldn’t let down their guard when watching over any child in their care. However, statistically, if you are responsible for caring for a male child, you should add an extra layer of water safety caution. Statistics indicate that, with a drowning-related death rate of 15.6 per 1,000,000, boys are at higher risk from drowning than girls (6 per 1,000,000).
Why Kids are at Risk Near the Water
Whether it’s in a backyard pool, a community pool or splash pad, by a lake or at a seaside resort, or when enrolled in the Montgomery Child Care Summer Adventure program, kids love the water – and aquatic activities are healthy for the child. Water activities can:
However, their zest for participating in water activities doesn’t reduce the risks associated with these events. Without child caregivers adhering to the Safety-First watchwords, kids are at risk for various reasons:
Kids are typically fascinated with new environments and situations. So, when they encounter water features (pools, ponds, garden waterfalls), or natural waterbodies – like lakes and rivers – for the first time, the risks rise proportionately. Conversely, if children aren’t regularly exposed to water and aquatic activities, they often let down their guard, or lose safety inhibitions. When that happens, there’s a likelihood that they’ll forget any safety instructions previously distilled into them. That’s when parents and caregivers must be extra sensitive to the Safety-First watchwords!
Water Safety Tips
Given the indiscriminate nature of waters’ ability to injure or drown children, there’s a heightened responsibility for adults, in a childcare role, to embrace water safety protocols. These safety measures should go above and beyond what one might put in place for other vulnerable populations – such as seniors or adults with some limited disabilities.
Here are some protective measures that caregivers must consider to keep kids safe from water-related tragedies:
One important rule that parents and child caregivers should adopt is the concept of alternate supervision. When enjoying time out on the water, be it a lake, seaside or a pool, it’s easy for adults to get caught up in the ongoing excitement. This may also occur if the primary water watcher is also tasked with other activity – for instance barbequing or manning the grill to prepare the meals.
This can, at times, distract an adult from their supervisory responsibilities. It’s therefore a good idea to have a designated alternative water watcher who takes over when the primary caregiver is unable to perform their duty.
Basic Principles of Water safety for Kids
While implementing the above tips will help prevent many drowning-related accidents and deaths among children, they won’t eliminate such tragedies from occurring. As an added layer of safety around water, most preschool and school age programs also enforce the following supplementary safety rules:
As a final level of protection, Montgomery Child Care centers always encourage designated MCCA staff to receive training in First Aid, CPR and medication administration training[ii]. When on a waterway that’s far from emergency medical facilities – such as ambulance responders or lifeguards – it helps to have at least one adult on scene that knows CPR or is adept in other resuscitation methods. To this end, all kids must be encouraged to acquire these lifesaving skills as early as possible. It could help save a life on the water when there’s no one else to assist another child in distress!
MCCA has been recognized by the Maryland State Legislature for its commitment to Montgomery County issued a quality programs and special needs child care Proclamation in 2016 to MCCA for its commitment to Montgomery County child care for more than 50 years. MCCA was also selected as a 2018 nonprofit finalist for a MOXIE Award for boldness and innovation
MCCA is the oldest nonprofit licensed child care provider in Montgomery County and started its work in 1968 as a Community Action Project of the War on Poverty. Recognizing the need for quality child care programs in their neighborhoods, a group of local activists formed an association to establish centers in Montgomery County that would serve a diverse population and establish high standards for child care. Now, more than 50 years later, MCCA’s dedicated and expertly trained staff continue their tradition of providing high quality child care and play-based education for children.
Families with school aged children who can afford their child care expenses during the school year often struggle to afford the all-day programs they need when school is out for the summer. The Richard Krampf Summer Adventures Scholarship Fund was established to help provide children a safe and stimulating place to spend their weeks when school is out. Please contact an MCCA Director for details on how to apply.