Water possesses an almost magnetic charm to children. The joyous giggles in the bathtub, the gleeful splashing at a toddler’s water table, the boisterous playfulness at the local swimming pool, or the sense of adventure that beckons from the vast expanse of oceans and lakes — each of these water experiences captivates young minds. Yet beneath the laughter and excitement, there lurks a silent danger.
Drowning remains one of the top causes of unintentional death of children one to fourteen, transforming what should be a source of delight into a heartwrenching tragedy. Drowning is preventable, and sharing that message with parents, caregivers, children, and youth is imperative.
Considering that kids spend a significant amount of time at school, they’re ideal venues to reach as many people as possible to implement drowning prevention strategies for several reasons:
● Education and Curriculum: Schools are fundamental education centers where children can learn about various safety topics as part of the curriculum. Drowning prevention can easily be integrated into health education or physical education classes.
● Reach and Regularity: Schools reach many children regularly, ensuring consistent and repeated messaging.
● Structured Learning Environment: Schools’ structured learning environments provide a controlled setting for teaching and practicing safety skills. They can provide theoretical and practical lessons, including supervised swimming lessons in some cases.
● Peer Learning: Children often learn well among peers. Schools provide a social environment where students can learn from each other and encourage safe behaviors among their friends.
● Resource Availability: Many schools have the necessary resources to provide comprehensive education, including access to qualified instructors and educational materials.
Stop Drowning Now offers a comprehensive engaging curriculum using stories and hands-on, age-appropriate activities. The fun program is free to educators and enables children to grasp the safety concepts in a non-threatening way, making it memorable and enjoyable. Components of the program include:
Flagship Curriculum (22 hour comprehensive education)
Water Safety Week (5 hour program)
Water Safety Presentation (1 hour program)
Water Safety Puppet Show (45 minute program)
● Inclusion of All Backgrounds: Schools are inclusive, educating children from various backgrounds and communities, some of which may not have access to water safety education at home.
● Parental Involvement: School programs often involve parents, providing information that can be taken home, extending the reach of water safety education beyond the classroom.
● Early Intervention: Starting education early in life in schools can establish safe behaviors that can last a lifetime, reducing the risk of drowning in childhood and later in life.
There are many steps schools can take to better educate students and families on water safety and prevent drownings.
Basic Swimming Skills
● Offering swimming lessons through physical education programs or after-school activities provides essential water safety skills. According to the National Institutes of Health, participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% among children ages one to four.
● Swimming skills such as floating, treading water, and performing safe water exits allow kids to better handle unexpected falls into water.
● Make swimming lessons available to all grade levels, starting from an early age, to ensure that children develop early water competency.
Water Safety Education
● Dedicate time during health and physical education courses to teach water safety principles. Provide age-appropriate educational materials.
● Key topics include the dangers of swimming alone, proper use of life jackets, what to do if you see someone in distress in the water, and basic CPR and rescue techniques.
● Emphasize the importance of constant adult supervision around water.
Pool Safety Policies
● For schools with on-campus pools, implement safety policies such as assigned lifeguards, “buddy systems,” and disciplinary procedures around running near and pushing others into the pool area.
● Post highly visible pool rules signage and depth markers. Keep pool chemicals secure and locked.
● Require enrolled students to pass basic swimming tests if they wish to access the pool outside of class time. Limit access without supervision.
Awareness of Natural Water Risks
Natural water bodies presnet unique risks. Schools organizaing activities in natural waters should educated students about these hazards and check weather forcasts to avoid dangerous situations.
● Send drowning risk and prevention information home to families. Highlight ways parents can practice water safety at home.
● Partner with local health departments, water safety coalitions, swimming instructors, and lifeguard associations to provide community water safety courses and resources.
Everyone Can Help Prevent Drowning
Implementing multifaceted drowning prevention strategies can equip students with lifelong water safety skills. By making water hazard education and training a priority, schools have the opportunity to prevent many avoidable tragedies.
Together, we can end the heartache of losing a loved one due to drowning. Donate now to help us provide water safety outreach to schools and community groups to keep everyone safe.