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Little is more tragic and more preventable than a child's accidental drowning in a backyard swimming pool. Losing a child in this fashion has got to be a parent's worst nightmare, yet we hear about it every summer.
According to the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, the statistics are pretty straight-forward: Children between the ages of one and four are most likely to drown, and many do, often in backyard pools and small kiddie pools. For every child who dies from drowning, another four children are taken to the emergency room because they have almost drowned. And children who come perilously close to drowning often suffer serious consequences for the rest of their lives because of brain damage. Finally, and this is possibly the worst part of it all: Most young children who drown have been out of their parents' sight for less than five minutes.
The best parents in the world can become distracted and lose brief sight of their child. It is always a mistake but in few instances is it more of a mistake than when water is involved. Unlike adults, children tend to go under quickly and silently, and toddlers require only a few inches of water in which to drown.
While information like this can be terrifying, the intent is to spur adults into taking basic precautions when it comes to kids and water. Safety experts caution an "eyes-on" and "arm's reach" policy when it comes to little ones and water. Never take your eyes off a small child and always be within an arm's reach of any child five years and younger when in and near water. And it is never okay to leave a child alone near water, not even for a second. Nor should one child be left in charge of another child near the water.
As Chair of Public Safety, I encourage every parent and caretaker to take the Pool Safety Pledge: "I won't leave children alone near a pool, not for a minute, not for a second, not ever!" It can be exhausting and even a little tedious, but the terrible consequences of doing anything else speak for themselves. Let's make this summer a safe one for all of us, but especially for our children.
For more information visit the Suffolk County Health Department's website at www.suffolkcountyny.gov/health.