Swim Safely this Summer
Summer is here and children all over are headed to pools, beaches, and lakes. Opportunities for taking a dip over the summer are endless — but so are the opportunities for danger for young children most at risk of drowning. Rita Goldberg from The British Swim School offers tips for keeping kids safe around any type of water this summer.
- Employ proper supervision. Assign a parent or guardian who will maintain a constant watch over children during gatherings and be responsible for all happenings during a set timeframe. When kids are in or around water, an adult should always be supervising. Never walk away and stay within arm’s reach — even if the water appears shallow.
- Set water-safe rules in place ahead of time. Make sure there are a clear set of rules pre-established — for example, before getting in the water kids should understand that should be no roughhousing, no running, no breath-holding contests, etc.
- Prepare yourself for water emergencies. Parents all have a deep belief that “I am a good parent, this could never ever happen to me!” But that’s like saying “I am a good driver; an accident could never happen to me.” According to the experts at The British Swim School, the top recommendation is that parents are CPR certified.
- Know when water hazards are present. When it comes to water, hazards are everywhere. These can include residential pools, drainage ditches, local waterways, bathtubs, buckets, fountains, the beach… The list goes on. Any of these can pose drowning risks for infants and toddlers if left unattended.
- Teach children to avoid water hazards. Children should be taught to never approach water without an adult’s supervision and permission, even it’s a pool they have been to before or their own bathtub.
- Skip the ‘holding-your-breath’ games, as they can be dangerous. The problem with breath holding is this: If you teach a child to swim forward to a parent, a wall or a side of the pool while holding her breath, the danger is that if she ever falls into water and none of the above are available, the child will start to take in water and eventually drowning will occur. Instead, children should be taught proper swimming techniques.
- Start young. Although there have been great strides in the early teaching of water survival, it’s important to recognize the significance of young survival classes. Safety nets can fail (and sadly they often do) — but if a little one has been taught to roll over onto its back in water, it increases the chances of survival considerably. As soon as a baby can crawl, survival swim classes should be a top priority. Swimming lessons can teach more advanced skills once survival skills are taught.
- Have fun! Swimming is a serious and essential life skill, but learning to swim should be an enjoyable experience. Learning swimming and survival skills should be the foundation of a lifelong love of water and not some short, miserable experience.
When swimming outside, always remember to cover-up. Wear hats, consider swimsuits with built-in UPF 50+protection and rash guard tops like these from Snapper Rock, and slather on the sunscreen!