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Most parents have misconceptions about drownings

Ladder at a swimming pool. (Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — As the summer months heat up, many kids will jump in the pool to cool off. But it’s not all fun in the sun. Hundreds of children in the U.S. drown every year and most are under 5 years old, according to federal data.

The summer months are especially deadly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says kids between the ages of 1 and 4 have the greatest risk, and most of those drownings occur in home swimming pools.

Kids 5 years and older are more likely to drown in ponds, lakes or rivers.

In a new report, Safe Kids Worldwide found that many people have misconceptions about drownings.

Out of more than 1,000 parents surveyed, more than half believed that a lifeguard is the main person responsible for monitoring children in water.

“Alifeguard’s job is to be there to enforce rules, whether they’re on a beach or in a pool, to scan, to rescue, to resuscitate. Not to be the supervisor or baby sitter for a child,” said Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide.

“Parents need to be alert and responsible for their children when they are near or in the water.”

Nearly half of the parents in the survey believed that if a child is drowning nearby, they would notice. But Carr says drowning can be silent, especially for younger children who don’t have the strength to keep their heads above water.

“There will be very little splashing and probably no sound,” she said.

One in three parents believed they could leave their children alone in the water for at least two minutes. But drownings can happen within seconds.

Carr says families who have small children should erect a fence at least four feet high around their backyard pool and consider installing childproof locks. Homeowners should also be trained in CPR.

“If there is an emergency and you need to help resuscitate someone, having that skill could be the difference of saving the life or losing the life of a child,” she said.

Open bodies of water, such as oceans, can be dangerous even for the best swimmers. Swimming with a partner and being aware of your surroundings is important. If you are caught in a rip current, stay calm and swim parallel to the beach.

Safe Kids Worldwide created free “Water Watcher Cards” that can be downloaded on its website. One adult in a group is designated the water watcher, and holds the card for a while, then passes it off to another adult. The idea is to designate a monitor while kids are playing around water.

You can download the card on the Safe Kids Worldwide website.

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