Most of us have become so tied to our phones we can hardly take our eyes off of them for a second.
But when you’re at a pool, or a lake, or the ocean with your kids, that distraction can have disastrous consequences. Now, the world’s largest lifeguard organization says some kids are drowning because parents are on their cellphones and not paying attention.
“I do see parents on their phone all the time I mean I think all of us do it,” said Tracie Caro, who is a parent herself.
Safety experts say it has become a critical problem.
“A lot of parents don’t realize that it only takes seconds for a child to submerge and potentially drown,” said Mary Beth Moran, with Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego.
The Centers for Disease Control says drownings are the second leading cause of death in children ages one to 14. Distractions– including talking and texting– are at the heart of a growing number of those tragedies.
“It can take seconds and you’re not necessarily looking for them and all of a sudden they’re at the bottom of the pool,” Moran said.
Experts say since it’s hard for one person to be watching all the time, parents should start a “Water Watcher” program, designating one person to watch the pool.
“The water watcher program is analogous to the designated driver,” Moran said. “You have a dedicated water watcher.”
“It’s a pledge to pay attention to what’s going on in the pool,” said parent Kurt Griskonis. “I am on duty when I have the card on.”
Experts say no phone doesn’t mean no fun, but make sure someone is watching all the time.
“Enjoy your child at the pool,” Moran said. “If you need to answer a text or take a call you know, go to the pool with another parent and excuse yourself and say, ‘Hey can you watch the kids.'”
“Everybody has a cellphone and people are always calling or texting, and there’s social media,” Caro said. “It’s too easy to get distracted. You can’t take a life back once they drown.”
But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a phone with you. Experts recommend always having a cellphone nearby in case of an emergency. Just avoid distractions and make sure someone always has their eyes on the kids.