Swimming is great exercise and a fun way to spend time together as a family. With summer almost here, it is important to remember how dangerous water can be. It only takes a moment. A child can drown in the time it takes to reply to a text, check a fishing line, or apply sunscreen. Death and injury from drownings happen every day in home pools and hot tubs, at the beach or in oceans, lakes, rivers and streams, bathtubs, and even buckets.
Here are ten tips to follow as you enjoy all the fun water has to offer this summer.
1. Never swim alone. Have your child swim with a friend or sibling so they can look out for one another if their parents aren't physically in the pool with them.
2. Supervise children when they are in the water. A parent should be within arm's reach of a small child at all times. Parents of older children should stay close and keep their eyes on their children at all times. The best way to remain vigilant when your children are swimming is to put your phone away and simply enjoy hanging out with each other.
3. Don’t play breath-holding games. While swimming, children shouldn’t hold their breath for a long time, as this can cause drowning and has several other severe risks. Make sure children understand competing to see who can hold their breath underwater and other similar games can be dangerous and should not be part of any water-related activities.
4. Always wear a life jacket. Young children or inexperienced swimmers should always wear a Coast Guard-certified life jacket around water. Remember a life jacket or other flotation device should never be an excuse to ignore other water safety guidelines. Life jackets alone are not enough when it comes to staying safe around water.
5. Don’t jump in the water to save a friend- If a child sees their friend struggling to keep their head above water, their first instinct may be to jump in to help. However, doing so could lead to both people drowning. Instead, the “reach, throw, don’t go” technique, is recommended. This involves using a long object to pull a struggling swimmer to safety. This technique can help children help their friend without putting themselves at risk.
6. Enter the water feet first. Injuries can happen when kids jump or dive headfirst into shallow water. Make sure your child understands the proper way to enter and exit the pool.
7. Stay away from pool drains. It is a good idea to show your child what the pool drain looks like. Explain to them the importance of staying away from them. Children's hair, bathing suits, and even limbs have become stuck in broken or faulty drains, which can lead to drowning or serious injury.
8. Stay within designated swim areas. Whether you're swimming in a pool, ocean, or lake, staying within the designated swim areas is vital to staying safe. Teach children about ropes and why people use them to divide a pool. Never encourage a child to swim in water deeper than their abilities will allow, and, especially if you're swimming in a lake or ocean, always follow guidelines local lifeguards have established.
9. Avoid using alcohol. Alcohol impairs judgment, coordination, and balance. It affects a person's ability to swim well, and it can even lower body temperature. Never consume alcohol while you're supervising your children in the water. Not only can it cause you to become distracted, but it could leave you unable to function appropriately if an emergency should happen.
10. Learn CPR. While we hope your family will follow all these guidelines and stay safe in the water, the unfortunate truth is that accidents happen. Knowing how to perform CPR can be the difference between life and death. Get your CPR certification and keep it up to date.
For more information on water safety, visit the Red Cross at www.redcross.org.
Last Update: May 20, 2022 11:14 am CDT