In Bird Lake Moon, the tragic drowning of Spencer's four-year-old brother haunts his family during their return visit to Bird Lake. As we approach the summer months, it is wise to ponder the following tragic statistics presented by the Orange County Fire Authority:
"Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths to children ages 14 and under. A temporary lapse in supervision is a common factor in most drownings and near-drownings. Child drownings can happen in a matter of seconds - in the time it takes to answer the phone. There is often no splashing to warn of trouble. . . "
Even more sobering are the following facts about how and when drownings occur:
Safekids USA, a child safety organization, warns that, "Children ages 5 to 14 most often drown at open-water sites (rivers, lakes and oceans)" and suggests the following drowning-prevention strategies:
Actively supervise children in and around open bodies of water, giving them undivided attention. Appoint a designated "water watcher," taking turns with other adults. Keep a phone nearby in case of an emergency.
Make sure kids swim only in areas designated for swimming.
Enroll your child in swimming lessons after age 4 typically the earliest age when they're likely to practice and retain information. Teach children how to tread water, float, and stay by the shore.
Teach children not to dive into oceans, lakes or rivers because you never know how deep the water is or what might be hidden under the surface of the water.
Teach children that swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool: they need to be aware of uneven surfaces, river currents, ocean undertow and changing weather.
Do not let kids operate personal water craft such as jet skis. These are intended for adults and require special training.
Learn infant and child CPR.
This article was originally published in June 2008, and has been updated for the
March 2010 paperback release.
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