Make a Splash With Your Kids Over the Fourth
Because diving is one of the most dangerous water activities, SAFE KIDS advises against diving in above-ground pools and in depths less than five feet. Teaching children to dive with their hands in front of their faces is also recommended, as is swimming toward the surface immediately after diving. But even these precautions couldn't prevent a recent accident in Atlanta.
"My son fell through the diving board railing and fractured his skull," says Lucy Daniel, mother of 3-year old Davis. "Even though there wasn't any swelling or bleeding, he had seizures for an hour and needed a breathing tube," she adds.
"Davis was back in the pool just 10 days later, but now he wears swim shoes with heavy traction." Understandably, Daniel urges age limitations on diving board use.
Similarly, doctors advise that young children be prohibited from using the personal watercraft known by names such as Jet Ski, Sea-Doo, or Waverunner. Because deaths and injuries related to these devices are increasing in children and adolescents, the AAP recommends a minimum operating age of 16 and mandatory use of flotation devices.
"Most of these incidents involve collisions with other vessels, docks, or tree stumps," says Marilyn Bull, MD, chair of the AAP injury prevention committee and professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine. "And three studies cite inexperience, inattention, excessive speed, and recklessness as factors that lead to accidents."
One trauma surgeon applauds these prevention efforts. "In Florida, we see too many of these accidents," says David Shatz, MD, an associate professor of surgery at the University of Miami School of Medicine. "Lacerations account for most of the injuries, followed by fractures and head trauma.
"Given the high speed of personal watercraft, it's amazing that protective gear isn't required," he says.
Bull says it's not yet clear what kind of helmet gives the most protection to personal watercraft riders. "Some professional riders wear helmets, but more research is needed to determine which type of helmet provides the best protection," she says. In the meantime, the Personal Watercraft Industry Association recommends wearing a wetsuit, gloves, protective eyewear, and footwear.
Water safety regulations are also expanding in many areas. In 32 states, children are required to wear flotation devices when they are on watercraft or near open bodies of water. Arizona, California, and Oregon also require fencing around residential pools.