Drowning is the leading cause of injury death among children aged 1-4 years, and while swimming pools are a major risk, not all deaths occur in or around a pool. There are many potential risks for drowning in the average home.
Parents with young children should regularly conduct a home water safety audit to determine where the risks are in their home and what they can do to better protect their children. The United States Swim School Association, the preeminent swim school organization in the country, has created a guide for parents to follow when conducting an audit.
Home Water Safety Audit Tips
- When performing a water safety audit in your home, first create a list of each room inside your home and include garages, sheds, front yard and back yard, and other structures on your property as rooms so you can check them off your list as you survey each area.
- Look for common risk factors found in the average home in each room including buckets, diaper pails, toilets, ice chests/coolers, hot tubs, spas and whirlpools, ditches and post holes, wells, ponds and fountains.
- Identify unique risks in each area of your home and list them under that room. For example:
- Kitchen — dishes are left soaking in a sink filled with soap and water overnight.
- Laundry room — the utility sink has a bucket sitting in it with a few inches of water left over from cleaning the floors.
- Backyard — old 5-gallon buckets were left sitting upright behind the shed and could collect rainwater.
- Bathroom — the bathtub doesn’t drain properly and sometimes water can be left sitting in it for over an hour after it is used.
- Front yard — a decorative fountain could be a risk when the kids play outside.
- Fill your bathtub with the amount of water normally used during bathing and use a stopwatch to time how long it takes to drain. Never leave the bathroom unsupervised after a bath until that amount of time has passed.
- Create a plan for correcting or mitigating risks in your home including toilet lid locks, pool fences and other barriers.
- To remind yourself to change habits like soaking dishes in the kitchen sink over night, post a note next to the sink.
- Correct any issues in the home like slow-draining sinks or bath tubs, improperly stored buckets or containers, children’s play pools, etc. Hire a plumber to fix drains if you do not have the expertise and always store buckets or containers upside down so water cannot collect in them.
- For risks installed in your home landscaping including fountains, fishponds, ditches, etc. consider putting up barriers to block children from falling into them and carefully supervise children playing outside.
In addition to surveying the home for potential drowning risks, parents should also know how to react to a drowning situation by learning CPR and keeping up to date with certifications.The US Swim School Association (USSSA) has more than 400 members providing swim and water safety instruction to over 500,000 students each year. Through USSSA, parents and students are provided with a reliable and trustworthy resource when searching for a swim school. For more information, go to www.usswimschools.org.