There’s a long list of conversations parents need to have with their kids. Some topics are difficult, and others are intense. No matter the subject, it’s not always easy to impart information to your kids. You may wonder how much of your conversation they’ve absorbed, if they were paying attention or will even heed your advice.
Drowning prevention may not seem like a top priority in the long list of discussions you need to have with your kids, but it’s critically essential. Every year we read heartbreaking stories about children drowning. But the truth is it always seems like something that happens to someone else. Unfortunately, that’s what the grieving families of children who have drowned thought. Drowning is preventable, but it requires education and vigilance.
Of course, all parents want their children to have fun at the pool, the ocean, or the lake. Fortunately, having conversations with your children about water safety and taking the right steps can ensure they’re safe in or near the water. Make sure your children know and follow these guidelines:
General Water Safety Rules
● Only swim in designated swimming areas in pools, lakes, and other bodies of water.
● Never swim without adult supervision. Even if your child is a great swimmer, accidents can happen. Kids need to know how dangerous swimming without an adult can be. Always listen to the adult in charge.
● Always swim with a buddy, never alone. Even competent swimmers can get into trouble in the water, so swimming with a friend is always important. Plus, it’s more fun that way!
● Don’t go in the water if you see someone is having trouble swimming. Instead, try to find something to throw to the person to help them, such as a life preserver.
● Get out of the water when you’re tired.
● Never dive into water if posted rules don’t allow it or if the water is less than 9 feet deep. Even then, it’s best to encourage kids to jump in feet first for optimal water safety. Instead, introduce your kids to cannonballs and pencil jumps.
● You should never swim outdoors during thunderstorms or lightning storms.
Swimming Pool Rules
● No running at the pool. The pool deck can be extremely slippery and dangerous. When kids run, they are prone to slipping and falling.
● Don’t push people into the pool. It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.
● Don’t swim or play near drains. It’s easy for swimsuits, hair, body parts, etc., to get pulled into the drain and trap a child underwater.
● Don’t leave the pool area without saying goodbye. Make sure your kids let an adult know they’re leaving, where they’re going, and when they will return.
Open Water Rules
● Teach your child what to do if they swim too far from the shore: stay calm, tread water, and raise their arm to signal for help.
● Children should wear a Coast Guard-certified life jacket whenever they are in or around natural bodies of water, including lakes and the ocean, even if they know how to swim.
● Only swim at beaches where lifeguards are on duty.
● Educate your kids about dangerous surf and rip tides that can pull them down.
Boating Safety Rules
● Teach your child to wear a Coast Guard-approved life vest at all times. And have them practice swimming while wearing the life vest before going out on a boat.
● Let kids under 16 know they aren’t allowed to operate personal watercraft. These include any vehicles with a motor, such as jet skis.
● A day at the pool, beach, or lake can be great fun, but only if everyone is safe.
No matter how young or old children are, teach them water safety and pool safety rules. Enroll them in swimming lessons. While knowing how to swim won’t automatically protect your child from drowning, it gives them the confidence to lessen any panic.
Join us in saving lives and ending the heartache of losing a loved one due to drowning. Together, we can end drowning and save lives and suffering! Take our Water Safety Challenge to measure your family’s water safety competence and help us provide water safety outreach to schools and community groups to keep kids safe.