Guest Blog Post by Alex Robbins of Safety Today
Children love to spend hot summer days by the lake or the backyard pool. As a parent, it’s common to worry about the safety of your child. According to Injury Facts 2016, 3,391 drownings occurred in 2013. Twelve percent of those who drowned were children under the age of 5. Drowning is the 2nd leading cause of death in children under the age of 14. Armed with these facts, it is important that you take the necessary precautions to prevent any water-related accidents for your child. Here are a few water safety tips and guidelines you can enforce.
Enroll in swim lessons
Your child can be introduced to the water as early as 6 months of age, however, the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend formal water safety programs until the age of 1. Evidence has shown that children ages 1 to 4 may be less likely to drown if they have had proper swim instruction. Swim lessons will educate your child on how to relax, breathe and float in the water. They will also learn the proper safety guidelines of water activity, however it is important that you enforce them. Although your child will be practicing independence in the pool, your supervision is still a must. If you are not a strong swimmer, it is advised that you take lessons as well. To find water safety classes in your area, visit the American Red Cross or YMCA.
Adult supervision is needed at all times
Taking swim lessons does not guarantee an accident-free swimming experience. Learning to swim lowers the risk of drowning, but children still need to be supervised by the water at all times. It only takes 25 seconds for a child to become submerged, and they can drown in as little as 2 inches of water. If you are going to be in a distracted environment such as a party, assign one or two adults to monitor the children. If there are going to be toddlers in the water, assign an adult to be an arm’s length away. This is called “touch supervision”. It is recommended that each supervising adult is CPR-certified. As a parent, you may want to take CPR training as a skill to have in any environment. Training classes are typically offered at local hospitals and fire departments.
If your child will be using a donut float or a “noodle” in the water, you will still need to keep an eye on them. Arm floaties and other accessories do not aid in preventing drowning incidents. If you would like your child to have added protection, use a Coast Guard-approved life jacket. These vest are fitted to your child and are the only guaranteed safe floatation device available. You may purchase these vest at a sporting good store or from various online retailers.
It’s natural for your child to feel a rush of excitement when around the water, but you must enforce all the proper guidelines before turning them loose. There should be bsolutely no running or pulling others into the water. They must ask an adult for permission before going for a swim. Also, if a group of children are involved, appoint each child a “buddy” to keep an eye on at all times. If they should lose sight of their buddy, tell them to alert an adult immediately.
Safety saves lives. As a parent, it is your job to do all you can to ensure that your child has an incident-free experience by the water. Use these guidelines for your peace of mind while your child enjoys a summer full of fun water activities!
Mr. Robbins is the father of three lively boys. He considers home safety to be a number one priority and is part of the wonderful team at Safety Today, a community of parents and professionals promoting safety in the home and the community.