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When the weather warms up, there are few things that children enjoy more than getting wet. Whether it's running through sprinklers or taking a field trip to a community pool, summer and water fun go hand in hand for kids. However, while these activities can provide a great way to cool down on hot days, playing around water can also pose a risk to the kids you care for. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly two children aged 14 or younger die from accidental drowning every day.
As a childcare provider, make water safety a priority this summer with these three tips:
1. Constant supervision
When a child is in the water, he or she must be constantly supervised. Irreversible brain damage can occur within as few as four to six minutes of being underwater, according to 411 Pediatrics, and that's when the child can be revived. Active supervision is critical because drowning incidents usually don't involve splashing and yelling.
"Drowning is quick and silent," Dr. Martin Eichelberger, president and CEO of Safe Kids told Parents magazine. "Young kids rarely make a big splash, thrash around, or scream for help like you see on TV. They usually fall in head first and sink to the bottom like a rock."
If you're using a small plastic or inflatable pool, be sure to drain it as soon as you're finished. Even if you don't plan on having the kids outside any longer, there's no point in risking one of them sneaking away when you're not looking and attempting to get back in the water.
2. Create an emergency plan
While supervising your students closely can go a long way, you should still be prepared for accidents by developing an emergency plan in place and communicating it to all staff team members. For example, it might include steps such as alerting a co-worker for help while you grab the child, having someone call for emergency aid and administering CPR.
When you are supervising children playing in the water, keep a mobile phone with you at all times in case you need to call 9-1-1 and have emergency contact information on hand for each child. You and all your co-workers should additionally be certified in CPR.
3. Consider all sources
Pools are not the only water source that present a drowning risk. According to Nermours Children's Hospital, children can drown in as little as 2 inches of water. That means that you should keep an eye out for puddles, buckets and even toilets where a child might fall in and be unable to get out.