Washington State is lucky to have many gorgeous rivers, streams, lakes and a breathtaking coastline. We also have many households with built in pools. With so many opportunities for swimming and other water activities, there is also a need to understand the risks that water poses to children. The fifth leading cause of death in the United States is drowning, and in Washington State, drowning is the second leading cause of death among children under 18.
In 2004, a two-year old boy drowned in Tapps Lake after wandering away from his daycare. The daycare was licensed by Washington State despite the fact that they did not have a fenced in backyard. Due to the negligence by the state in awarding the license, the boy’s family was awarded $11.7 million in their case against the state. Fencing in pools and backyards is absolutely vital. Whether you have children or not, negligence is a liability. In fact, another Washington State case established that landowners are responsible for protecting others from natural hazards on their property, so be sure take all of the proper steps on your property.
Drowning deaths can be prevented. Start by teaching your children about the dangers of water. Even the youngest child should be taught never to enter water without adult supervision. This is a lesson that will stick with them for life and will protect them throughout their childhood. There are, of course, accidents, so it is important to take all the steps you can to prevent them. Mandating life jackets for your children on boats can be a lifesaving step. Look at this map to see where there might be a life jacket loaning program near you. Even if you are a strong swimmer, wearing a life jacket yourself sets a positive example for your kids.