We all know the importance of fire safety, the all-too high statistics of yearly house fires and their related deaths, the importance of teaching good fire safety practices to our children at an early age, and even the importance of involving public schools and the local fire departments in the process. We have even covered the topic of teaching fire safety to kids in a previous article, but we have also noticed a discrepancy in the amount of education involved and encouraged when it comes to teaching kids about the other most common threat to the average household, and that is why we would like to introduce Water Safety Tips into the safety curriculum for your kids, and to make the parents even more aware of the dangers involved in “playing with water,” as we are so commonly asked to help out when a flood situation at someone’s home has already passed the point at which it could have been easily avoided or prevented.
Unlike the element of fire, none of us could live without water in our homes. It is a part of our life source and a basic necessity to our daily health and cleanliness. However, water damage from flooding is one of the most destructive and potentially tragic things that can happen to an unsuspecting family. Floods can happen anywhere at any time, and the number of flood-related deaths each year is far too high, typically due to inadequate preparation and the absence of any sort of instilled safety protocols for dealing with the threat when it happens. It’s difficult for anyone to stay safe during a flood, but it’s definitely the hardest for our children. They need to be taught in advance about the dangers of flooding in an educational rather than a frightening tone, and more importantly, they need to be shown a good example by role model parents who take the advice and warnings from the National Weather Service seriously. (We realize how challenging that last part may be for some of us along the Gulf Coast, who tend to be stubborn in the face of a mandatory evacuation, but it’s true nonetheless that our children are always looking for an example to follow, so we should make sure it’s a good one by giving the threat of flooding in our neighborhoods the respect it deserves, rather than rushing out to plan our next hurricane party.)
After the flood, we should teach our children NEVER to play around any bodies of water unattended, since water can be highly charged or contaminated after a flood, and also, what may appear to be a puddle could actually be the top of a hole that reaches several feet in depth. Running water, or water with a current can also be carrying any assortment of dangerous or sharp debris that can cause serious injury if our kids aren’t careful, which they seldom are when faced with such an exciting and new atmosphere like the aftermath of a flood in their backyard or street. We should teach our kids how to operate the radio and television after a flood, and explain to them the importance of the news and safety coverage to the point where they’re actually giving the parents updates, rather than waiting to change the station to their favorite shows or music.
Each family should practice an emergency safety drill and make sure that everyone knows how to dial 911 and to give the information needed to get help to the home as quickly as possible. Quiz your kids on your home address, because you never know when that small piece of knowledge could be the difference between life and death in your family. Above all else in our water safety courses with our kids, we must NEVER assume that they will always do the right thing in an emergency, and make contingency plans accordingly. Children may lack the judgment skills we have as adults in dealing with an extreme situation, so take the best steps you can towards educating them now, because when disaster strikes, the first thing they will ask themselves is, “What would Mommy or Daddy do?”