Drowning doesn’t look like you expect
Drowning is the number one cause of injury-related deaths among young children according to the CDC, so it’s important to know how to spot it. You might imagine you’d notice someone failing about and screaming for help—but in reality, drowning is silent. According to a study from Safe Kids Worldwide and Nationwide’s Make Safe Happen program, “nearly half of parents say they think if a child was drowning nearby, they would hear him or her,” says pediatrician Marcee White, MD, medical advisor for Safe Kids Worldwide. “Instead, drowning is quick and quiet.” Young kids will show very little movement in their arms and legs, and may only have time to take a quick breath—not enough time or breath to scream—before they go under. “This all happens in a matter of minutes,” Dr. White says. Watch out for more silent but deadly signs of drowning.
Not having a designated “water watcher”
You’re at a summer barbecue and the kids are playing happily in the pool, but each parent thinks someone else is paying attention—which means no one is. This is just one of the incredibly dangerous parenting moves even careful parents make by mistake. “It is very common in pool-party situations for everyone to assume that someone else is watching the pool,” says pool safety expert Eric Lupton, CEO of Life Saver Pool Fence. “Designate a water watcher who is responsible for doing nothing but watching the pool—not using the phone or socializing—and rotate water watchers every 10 to 15 minutes.” Dr. White advises actually handing the parent on duty a physical “Water Watcher Card” to make them doubly aware that they’re on duty until they pass the card—and responsibility—to the next person. Here’s a card that you can download and print out.