According to the CDC, about one in five people who die from drowning are children ages 14 and younger. Additionally, for every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency care for nonfatal submersion injuries. As an organization founded with the sole priority of reducing drowning and saving lives through comprehensive education and training, the Starfish Aquatics Institute (SAI) is an outspoken advocate and sponsor for the Water Smart Babies™ Program.
Prescription for water safety is the latest movement in drowning prevention, which is why Water Smart Babies™, a collaborative project between SwimKids USA, USA Swimming, the USA Swimming Foundation, and SAI, includes water safety education in pediatric well visits. On the child’s ninth and twelfth month visits, the pediatrician writes out a “doctor’s prescription” for water safety lessons. Parents are given the Water Smart Babies™ handbook with tips on supervision, home water safety, location-specific water safety lesson facilities, CPR classes, and safety device information, such as pool fencing and covering, and door and pool alarms.
As the child visits the pediatrician in subsequent months, the doctor can follow up to make sure the family is getting their home equipped with the layers of protection and the child is participating in water safety lessons. Water Smart Babies™ also offers certification opportunities through instructor courses and training workshops, which include sessions that are both in and out of the water.
Initially adopted by the Florida Pediatric Society, the state chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Water Smart Babies™ program launched in 2010 and continues to be adopted nationwide. In fact, this past March, the program was launched at the National Drowning Prevention Alliance conference in Phoenix.
The reason for the success of the Water Smart Babies™ program is because it is proven to work. A 2009 research project at the National Institute of Health investigated the connection between swimming lessons and drowning and found that participation in formal swimming lessons provided an 88% reduction in the risk of drowning in children ages 1-4 years old. Conclusive reports stated that swim lessons should be considered for inclusion as part of a complete prevention program.
As families become increasingly aware of the importance of learning to swim and water safety, collaborative efforts like Water Safe Babies™ serve as tried and true educational resources resulting in less drowning incidents and more lives saved. To learn more about the program visit http://www.watersmartbabies.com/contact-us/.