Safe Summer Fun for Kids
African American Children More at Risk of Drowning
Kris Perry, Executive Director First 5 California
Summer activities are a favorite among young children, from playing on swings to swimming in cool water. But spending more time outside near garages, pools, lakes, and playground equipment can increase a child’s risk of injury.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 2.5 million children are injured around their homes every year. Statistics in the African American community are even more dramatic. A 2010 study commissioned by USA Swimming found that nearly 70% of African American children have little or no swimming skills, compared to 40% of white children. This condition puts them at greater risk of drowning. To help parents and caregivers protect kids from potential dangers and reduce accidents this summer, First 5 California offers the following tips on childproofing outdoor areas.
By the Water
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that drowning is the second leading cause of death for children. Studies also indicate that African American children have a greater risk of drowning because parental fear often discourages black children from learning to swim, even if the swim lessons are free. Be water wise around pools, lakes, ponds, and the ocean!
- Reinforce the importance of learning to swim to your children as a life-saving skill.
- Don’t rely on flotation devices like life vests or floating baby seats to keep kids safe, as these can shift position, lose air, or slip out from under a child.
- Install a fence or wall that’s at least four feet high around pools with a self-latching gate that kids can’t reach. Keep the pool gate closed at all times.
On the Playground
Before letting your child climb on play equipment in your backyard or a public playground, scan the area for potential safety hazards.
- Check the equipment for rusted parts and loose splinters that can pinch a child’s skin.
- Look under swings, slides, and play structures. Ideally, there should be wood chips, sand or rubber mats to help break a child’s fall.
- Touch the equipment to make sure it’s not too hot to play on.
Around the Garage
Garages and carports are often used to store lawn chemicals, gardening tools, and other items that are dangerous for young children.
- Keep pesticides, fertilizer, lighter fluid, and sharp objects like nails and screws in locked cabinets or high above the reach of curious little hands.
- When mowing the lawn, keep kids inside the house or at a safe distance so that they don’t get hurt by flying objects such as sticks or rocks. Never let children push a lawn mower with you.
Remember to always supervise children when they are playing outdoors. Summer provides great opportunities for kids to explore and stay active, but keep safety in mind first! For more information on outdoor safety, visit www.first5california.com/parents.
First 5 California, also known as the California Children and Families Commission, was established after voters passed Proposition 10 in November 1998, adding a 50 cents-per-pack tax on cigarettes to fund education, health, child care and other programs for expectant parents and children up to age 5. For more information, please visit first5california.com/parents.