Swimming is a fun activity, that is enjoyable for any age group. However, water can be particularly dangerous for kids –if parents don’t take the necessary precautions. 350 children under age 5 drown in pools each year nationwide. Drowning is the 2nd leading cause of death in children under 14. The majority of these deaths occur during the summer months, mostly in backyard pools. As a parent, the safety of your child is your number one concern. Here are a few water safety tips to give you peace of mind while your child participates in water activities.
Take Swim Lessons
You can start introducing your child to water when they are 6 months old. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend formal water safety programs for children younger than 1 year of age. It has been shown that children ages 1-4 may be less likely to drown if they have had formal swimming instruction. Enrolling in swim lessons is the first step you should take prior to letting your child frequent a pool. If you aren’t a strong swimmer, you will need to enroll as well. During lessons, your child will learn how to build independence, relax in the water, and establish breath control, all of which are needed to become a proficient swimmer. You can find swimming lessons at your local YMCA or American Red Cross.
Keep a Watchful Eye
Swim lessons are great for teaching children the basics, but accidents can still occur. A child can drown in as little as 2 inches of water, so adult supervision is a must at all times. Please avoid any distractions because it only takes 25 seconds for a child to become submerged in water. Whenever infants and toddlers are in or around water, assign one adult to be an arms-length away. This is called touch-supervision. CPR certification is recommended for any adult(s) overseeing the pool. CPR training is typically offered by local hospitals, fire departments and recreation centers.
Flotation aids such as water-wings and noodles are not a substitute for supervision; do not rely on them for the safety of your child. A well-fitting Coast Guard-approved life jacket is the best item for safety.
Educate Your Child
Enforce safety rules with your child such as no running near the pool, or pushing others in the water. Show them the markers that indicate the depth of the water and instruct them to never dive into the shallow end. Remind them to always ask for permission before going near water. If a group of children will be at the pool, encourage the buddy system. Pair your child with a friend and explain to them that they are responsible for knowing where their buddy is at all times. If an emergency arises, tell the children to alert an adult or lifeguard immediately.
Be Prepared for Emergencies
Always have a telephone in the pool area along with a list of emergency contacts. Also, keep a rescue ring with a rope beside the pool. Should an accident occur, remain calm and get the child out of the water immediately. Yell loudly for help and tell the nearest person to dial 911. Make sure the child’s air passages are clear, then administer CPR until help arrives.
You may be overwhelmed with the idea of letting your child swim, which is natural. There are a lot of risks to consider when it comes to water activities. Thankfully, there are many practices to keep your little one safe. As long as everyone adheres to the rules, swimming can be a very delightful pastime! – Alex Robbins
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