Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Drowning prevention

One point that struck me when I first read Freakonomics was the claim that a swimming pool was more likely to kill a child than a gun in the home. It felt counter-intuitive. Then, a close friend lost her toddler as a result of drowning.

This summer, there's been a lot of focus on the tragedies of gun violence, whether in Toronto or Colorado. Those stories are heart-breaking, and I don't have the answers to the problems.

I also noticed, though, that while the violent deaths are shown on the news in an endless loop, I've been seeing much smaller reports of drowning deaths this hot summer.

Many of the victims of the shootings were true heroes, and they should be honored. I'm also hoping, though, that a bit of time can be taken from the coverage of the crimes and debates to bring some attention to drowning prevention. How many parents will be too paranoid to allow their kids to see a movie or fear that the streets are getting too violent, while failing to take basic precautions to prevent something that is statistically more likely to kill their kids?

I thought this report was good, especially the video footage of a near-drowning:

Many people have no idea what a non-swimmer drowning looks and sounds like. They don't realize that what you see and hear is....nothing. There's no screaming or splashing, because they are under water. The only way to effectively supervise a child 5 or under in the water is to get in the water yourself, keep your eyes on your kids at all times, and always be within arms' reach. Period. You can't supervise from a pool chair, or think that there are enough people around that someone would notice a problem, or rely on a floatie ring.

Parents also need to view pools, ponds and other bodies of water in the same way that they would view a loaded gun when it comes to children. There needs to be a sturdy, self-closing gate between the house and the pool. During a backyard event, someone needs to be watching the pool and watching the young kids, because a child can fall in without anyone noticing. Children need constant vigilance around bodies of water, if they are visiting a cottage or camp.

People don't recognize the dangers of boating, especially with weak or non-swimmers. Life jackets need to be worn, since they won't do any good lying on the floor of the boat.

Parents should learn basic lifesaving techniques. If a weak swimmer tries to just jump in and rescue a non-swimmer, it's likely that they will both drown since the instinct of the non-swimmer is to grab onto the rescuer and try to climb up.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Camp video

This sounds awfully familiar....

For those of you without kids at a camp with Bunk1, here's an article with some background:

Now, I have a confession to make: I'm not a stalker parent. When my husband leaves his Facebook account open, I see that we have friends who are. I write to my daughter and I do get concerned about the big stuff - I wonder how she's doing during a heat wave without air conditioning, and got concerned when she mentioned that her bunkmates planned to leave out food in the hopes of attracting a bear. I think that heat stroke and bears are a legitimate concern. I just don't see the point in worrying about that much else. To my mind, camp is about developing independence.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Condo kids

Toronto's Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday apparently doesn't think that downtown condos should be for kids.

Too bad.

Yes, I'm currently a suburban mom of 3, but once upon a time I was a condo-dwelling urban mom. My husband was a medical resident working 80+ hours/week, so living within walking distance of the hospitals was a necessity. For a year, I was also able to work downtown when my oldest child was a baby.

It worked well for our young family. Most of the time, we walked to work and to the daycare, so transportation costs were minimal. There wasn't much space to spare, but we used the building's recreation centre well, doing endless laps around the track with the stroller, and then letting our daughter run around once she learned to walk. Instead of a basement and backyard, we had the YMCA Family Development Centre up the street, which offered plenty of toys and a place to hang out with other moms. Having everything close by allowed us to work without relying on a nanny. It also allowed us to go out and have fun with the baby, without having to constantly get in a car. We'd stroll through the Eaton Centre, jog around Queen's Park, and go for long walks all around downtown Toronto. One of my favorite memories is from the time that we walked to the Taste of Little Italy street festival, where our toddler entertained the crowd when she danced to a South American street band. We had a chance to raise her for 3 years in a wonderful, diverse area. No, she didn't play in the streets - urban condo kids quickly learn that they need to hold hands with an adult the moment they walk out the door.

At that stage of our lives, we wouldn't have been able to afford the time or money to live in the suburbs. A single detached house within the City of Toronto is just not affordable for many families, and living in a quiet residential area means that public transit is less of an option. Living in our old condo allowed us to be able to start our family. Today, we are able to make the suburbs work for us - with 3 kids, it's nice to have a larger home, and we are lucky to have careers that allow us to work close to home. If we didn't have that option, though, the commute would be horrible. Family-friendly condos just make sense.