Water Safety and Kids
Ah summertime – temperatures are rising, summer break is officially here, and COVID restrictions are being lifted. Life is starting to feel a little bit more normal. Whether the warm weather brings you to a beach in Cape Cod, dockside in New Hampshire, or even just lounging by the pool in the backyard, this time of year usually has all of us wanting to cool off and relax by our favorite body of water.
While we all want to enjoy ourselves, it is vital to have safe swimming rules in place and to never let your guard down, especially around children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death in young children ages one to 14. It’s an unfortunate reality we must be conscious of, one that takes only moments and can happen anywhere there is water.
Does this mean you should avoid the water?
Absolutely not! Swimming offers a wide variety of benefits for children and adults. In fact, swimming is one of the best exercises for children when done in a safe and responsible setting:
- Physical Benefits – Swimming improves cardiovascular health, muscle tone and strength and provides a full-body workout without putting too much stress on your bones and joints.
- Mental Health –Swimming can help boost confidence in children at an early age, as it can be intimidating your first time in the water. Swimming also can decrease stress and anxiety.
- Builds character – Children learn a great amount of discipline as they try and perfect their strokes. As we mentioned, swimming is a lot of fun when done responsibly. Teaching your child proper swim safety tips at a young age instills responsibility when they are around water.
- Social Skills – Whether your child is taking swim lessons, on a swim team, or even playing Marco Polo in the pool, swimming is an opportunity to build camaraderie or just swim with some friends!
- Lifelong fitness – Swimming is one of the few activities children can pick up from a very young age. Learning a variety of different swim strokes is a great way to improve muscle memory for years to come.
How to stay safe while swimming:
While swim safety is often a topic covered in the summer months, it’s important to remember that drowning can happen anytime of the year. Below are some water safety tips to remember now and all year round.
- Never swim alone – Swimming alone is never advised unless a lifeguard is present. Lifeguards aren’t just watching individuals swim, they are surveying the water for any hazards as well. Parents/guardians should always be present and paying attention when a child is swimming.
- Make sure everyone in your family knows how to swim well- enroll your child in swim lessons when they are ready. This can vary depending on age, development, and how often they are around water.
- Keep an eye on your child when they are in the water – Sitting by the water is a summertime classic, but if your child (or any child) is in the water, it is time to stay observant. Even children who are considered well-versed in aquatics need to be watched in order to avoid the unthinkable.
- No games that involve holding your breath – This may seem like common sense, but kids will be kids and competition always sounds like a fun idea. Avoid any dangerous swim games that involve holding your breathe for long periods of time.
- Inexperienced swimmers should always wear a life jacket – Coast Guard certified life jackets are a preferred option to ensure safe swimming. Please note, water wings, pool noodles and other floatation devices are not always a trustworthy option and should only be utilized while a responsible adult is present.
- “Reach, throw, don’t go” – As scary as it sounds, if a child sees their friend struggling to swim they should avoid jumping in to save them. Doing so may escalate the situation causing both individuals to drown. The “Reach, throw, don’t go” method consists of staying on land and throwing a long object to pull the swimmer to safety. By following this technique you can rescue the swimmer without putting themselves at risk.
- Enter the water feet first – Attempting that perfect dive or back flip may seem like an entertaining idea, but severe injuries can be the result of jumping headfirst into shallow water. It’s imperative to teach your child the proper technique. If there’s no designated diving area, do not allow diving, regardless of water depth.
- Keep away from pool drains – Hair, bathing suits, even fingers and toes can all get stuck in a pool drain which can lead to a serious injury or even drowning. Ensure your child knows where the pool drain is at all time and know to stay a safe distance from it
- Learn how to properly give CPR – Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a life skill you hope you never have to use, but can be the difference between life and death. Sturdy currently offers Infant CPR and encourages parents to take the class. If you are looking for other options for CPR certification, there are many programs that offer training including the American Red Cross.