Water safety Maui

Did you know Maui County has only 9 beaches with lifeguards? This is astounding considering the drowning rates in Hawaii. According to the Department of Health (May 23, 2012) there were 60 within the year of which 40% were ocean drownings. That leaves 60% in pools and other bodies of water. The majority of drowning victims in Hawaii are children (under the age of 5) and residents, and for every resident who drowns, there are two near-drownings, which require hospitalization. We have an emergency in Hawaii and on Maui!

“Education is the key to preventing tragic incidents at the pool…” Kim Burgess (National Drowning Prevention Alliance.

On Maui we spend a lot of time in or near the water, thus increasing the likelihood of accidents including drownings and near drownings. Unfortunately children from non-swimming households are eight times more likely to be at risk of drowning and, “Although the majority of parents agree that children should learn to swim, almost 40% of parents of children over age 5 report that their children have never taken swimming lessons.” Safe Kids Coalition.

Barriers inhibiting children from learning to swim or from becoming more competent swimmers include limited or denied access to swimming pools and learn-to-swim lessons; cultural, ethnic, or racial issues; parents or caregivers with a fear of water keeping their children from water- related lessons and activities; drowning/near-drowning incidents or bad experiences within the family or circle of friends and fear.

Besides teaching your child or enrolling your child in swim lessons (or yourself if you do not know how to swim either, there are parent-child learn-to-swim classes available) there are a few important things a parent should know to help prevent drowning and near drowning incidents:

• Most young children who drown in swimming pools were last seen in the home, had been missing from sight for less than five minutes and were in the care of one or both parents at the time of the drowning.

• One of the most horrific ways for a child to be injured or killed in a pool or hot tub is entrapment. Entrapment occurs when part of a child’s body becomes attached to a drain because of the powerful suction of a pool or hot tub’s filtration system. It also can occur when a child’s hair or swimsuit gets tangled in the drain or on an underwater object, such as a ladder.

• Warn your children about the dangers of drain entanglement and entrapment, and teach them to stay away from the drain.

• Install protection to prevent entrapment if you own a pool or hot tub. For new pools or hot tubs, install multiple drains or use a no-drain circulation system. If you do have drains, protective measures include anti-entrapment drain covers and a safety vacuum release system to automatically release suction and shut down the pump should entrapment occur.

• Actively supervise your children around water, and have a phone nearby to call for help in an emergency. (Supervision is Essential: Children drown quickly and silently—in a matter of seconds. Adults who were present when a child drowns were often distracted in some way, by talking on the phone, chatting with other adults around the pool, or reading).

• Make sure if you own a pool that it has four-sided fencing and a self-closing, self-latching gate, to prevent a child from wandering into the pool area unsupervised. Install a door alarm, a window alarm or both to alert you if a child wanders into the pool area unsupervised.

• Hot tubs should be covered and locked when not in use.

• It is recommended that no one use water wings. It may provide parents and children a false sense of security, as nothing can replace the ability to swim.

• CPR Saves: Drowning victims who are rescued from the water need CPR immediately – before the paramedics arrive. It can prevent brain damage and be the difference between life and death.~ GET CPR CERTIFIED.

• Life Jackets Make a Difference:~ Have your child wear a life jacket every time you go boating or are on a dock and if you and your family boat frequently, consider taking a boating safety class through the U.S. Coast Guard.

Children growing up on Maui need to learn to swim from an early age. Swimming lessons are important so that they can learn safety strategies, techniques, and skills for when they are in or near the water. The longer this type of education is delayed or compromised, the greater the risk of drowning and near drowning incidents. Please make it a priority to teach your children, it may save your child’s life and also help them enjoy a wonderful fun activity.

For more information on learn – to – swim lessons in your local area call 572-4665 or go to www.valleyisleaquatics.com.

Image Credit: Monica Flinders

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