Monday’s canoeing accident in Harvard is a painful reminder of the dangers children face in and around bodies of water.
Three cousins were fishing in a canoe in a retention pond when the boat tipped over. Twelve-year-old Christian Robles died. It is presumed he drowned. The two other boys – ages 12 and 10 – were not hurt. One was saved because of neighbor Tyler Kurth, who swam into the pond and rescued him.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 10 people in the U.S. die every day from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger. Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the U.S. Children between the ages of 1 and 4 have the highest drowning rates, and drowning is responsible for more deaths among children that age than any other cause except birth defects.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services said 21 Illinois children drowned in 2012 – 10 in pools, six in lakes, two in ponds, two in rivers, and one in a bathtub.
Water and children can be a deadly combination, whether in a bathtub, swimming pool, pond, lake or river. But there are steps you can take to keep your child safer, and DCFS does a good job laying out those precautions.
With swimming pools, appoint an adult who can swim to watch children while they are in the pool. The supervising adult should not read, talk on the phone, mow the lawn, leave or turn his or her back on the pool area. Keep ladders, patio furniture and toys away from above-ground pools. Fence in your pool completely and install a self-closing, self-latching gate. Young children should wear or use personal flotation devices, but these devices do not replace adult supervision.
When in a lake or river, children should always wear life vests when swimming. Swimming across a lake or river is not like swimming in a pool, and it’s easy to misjudge the water. It is unsafe to dive head-first into the water because it might be too shallow. Stay out of murky or fast-moving water because of hidden dangers.
In the bathroom, never leave a young child alone in a bathtub or allow a sibling to watch a younger child. If you need to leave the bathroom, take your child with you. Infant bathtubs and bathtub seats are bathing aids, not safety devices.