Today's guest blogger is Kim Everett, trauma prevention coordinator at St. Mary Medical Center.

The summer season is upon us, and it is time to get out of the house and enjoy the warm weather. During the warmer summer months, you may spend most of your time in and around different bodies of water, such as pools, lakes and oceans. When participating in any activity in or around water, it is important to know the different layers of water safety protection.

Drowning is the number one killer of children ages one to four, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One essential of water safety is knowing the difference between a life-saving device and a pool toy. Contrary to popular belief, swimmies, kickboards and body boards are only pool toys. Swimmies are not personal life-saving devices because they can slip off a child's arms. A life vest is the only type of personal life-saving device. When shopping for a personal life-saving device, look for a tag, which usually identifies the vest as a "life-saving device."

While at the beach or a pool, the most important water safety tip is supervision. You are the first line of protection when it comes to water safety. Yes, there are lifeguards at the beach, but lifeguards only act as a support for you. Additionally, if your child does not know how to swim, or if your child is not a great swimmer, have them put on a life vest, even if they are just playing in the sand along the water's edge.

These additional water safety tips can help keep your child safe this summer:

  • Consider installing a four-sided fence to prevent children falling into the pool.
  • Install an alarm on the door or pool and be alerted when someone exits the house or enters the pool.
  • Supervise children while in the pool and always be at arm's length. If having a barbeque, have a designated person with a whistle take 15-minute turns watching the pool. This "water watcher" should not eat, talk, use a handheld device, or move from the pool until his or her shift is up.
  • Enroll your child in swim lessons. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends formal swim lessons for children over the age of four.
  • Purchase rescue equipment such as a life ring or a life hook and pole.
  • Always have a clear line of sight to the pool from the house.

It is possible to drown in two inches of water and it looks nothing like what you see on TV. Children drown in silence. Watch for these signs to identify if a child is in trouble:

  • The mouth sinks below the water's surface and they cannot call for help.
  • Head is low in the water, tilted back with mouth open or the child's head is face down in the water.
  • If you ask the child, "Are you alright?" and they cannot answer or only return a blank stare, get them out of the water immediately.

Keep these safety tips in mind when you open your pool for the summer or when you plan your family outing to the beach.

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