You do your best to keep your kids safe, including taking precautions to ensure your kids stay safe around water. For example, you taught them how to swim or installed safety gates at home. But unfortunately, drowning remains a leading cause of unintentional death among children 1 to 14, and 45% of child drowning deaths occur at a swimming pool at a private residence.
Even the most cautious parents can slip up when teaching kids about water safety. Continue reading to learn about a few common mistakes they make when teaching their kids about swimming.
“My child is water-safe”
No child is ever completely water-safe. Even the most experienced swimmer isn’t totally water-safe! Anyone can trip on the pool deck, hit their head, and fall in. Accidents can happen. So whenever your child is in or around water, ask yourself the following questions:
What are the possible risks in this situation?
How can I reduce the risk for my children?
Learning to identify the risks associated with activities in, on, or around water can help keep your children water safe.
“The lifeguard will watch them”
Drownings at pools are swift and silent and usually occur with adults standing mere feet away from the pool. So put the cell phone away, forget about all the other things you have to do, and give young children 100% of your attention when they are near or around water.
A designated adult must actively supervise children constantly when they’re in or near water. Active supervision requires a laser focus on children — no texting, answering calls on your cell phone, reading, or searching through your bag for supplies. When supervising young children, they should be within arm’s length from you at all times.
The most critical measure to prevent children from drowning is adult supervision. That means a parent, a friend, a relative — any trusted adult providing their undivided attention to keep watch over children near or in the water — is the best defense against drowning. Constant supervision is the only way to keep children safe in and around water.
“My child knows how to swim”
While knowing how to swim can reduce the risk of drowning among children one to four years of age by 88%, it isn’t foolproof. Remember, anyone — even the most skilled swimmer — can drown.
Pediatricians recommend that many children older than one year will benefit from swim lessons. However, they are not recommended for children under one because children this young are not developmentally able to learn breathing techniques. Your pediatrician can help determine if your child is developmentally ready for lessons.
Several organizations, such as the American Red Cross, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs, and municipal and neighborhood pools, offer low-cost lessons, financial assistance, and even free swimming lessons.
“I can rely on water wings to keep my kids safe in the water”
Some parents mistakenly think that water wings keep their children safe and help them learn how to swim. Swimming aids such as water wings or noodles are fun toys for kids, but you should never use them in place of a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD). Never use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision. These toys are not life-saving devices and do not prevent drowning.
“My pool (or spa) is safe”
While many parents take precautions to keep backyard pools and spas safe, many fall short of fully safeguarding these bodies of water. There are multiple things to be aware of to ensure your pool and spa are safe.
● Ensure your drain and pump systems are compliant with existing state and federal regulations
● Keep your pool deck free of toys and other objects, so no one trips and falls into the pool
● Install four-sided isolation fencing to prevent someone from entering the pool area
● Lock and cover your hot tub when not in use
● Install a pool alarm
● Install a pool cover
● Keep rescue equipment, and a first aid kit poolside
Everyone Can Help Prevent Drowning
Enjoying a day at the beach, by the pool, boating, or playing water sports can be fun and relaxing, but only if everyone’s safe. Together we can end the heartache of losing a loved one due to drowning. 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 everyone safe.