Summer is the perfect time for swimming, isn’t it? Soon you may be heading to the beach, the lake, your neighborhood or community pool or you may even be lucky enough to have a pool in your very own backyard. Summer is such a time of celebration and fun and, at least for my family, involves a pool nearly every day of summer break.
With that said, I want to share with you 8 things you can do…you SHOULD do…to protect your family while around water this season.
Swim lessons are vital when it comes to water safety. Your child MUST learn to swim. There’s just no way around that. For the rest of your child’s life, there will ALWAYS be water. Not teaching your child the importance of water safety is like not teaching them how to cross the street safely. You just wouldn’t turn your kid loose and hope they make it across the crosswalk, would you?
As I have said many, many times NOBODY at the pool that day knew CPR. Not one person. How could I be a mom to four girls and NOT be CPR trained? The reason is that I thought I would never need it. Because accidents happen to OTHER people. Not me. Right? The truth is, you certainly do need CPR training. It will absolutely save a life.
Taking your kids to the pool doesn’t mean “relax”. Parents and caregivers can’t expect to have some time off while the children are in the water. It’s just the opposite. Taking your kids to the pool is WORK. You need to be on your game 100% of the time. For children who don’t yet know how to swim, that means you are IN the water with them and within arms reach. Not sitting on the chair. Not texting. Not reading. Not talking to other adults. Rather you are IN the water and actively WITH your child.
ARM FLOATIES AND RINGS ARE TOYS:
These items are NOT reliable water floatation devices. They are TOYS. That’s why they have a cutesy print and characters on them. And hey, a 5 year old can blow up a pair of arm floaties. Why would I rely on that item to keep my child safe in the water? If they can INflate, they can DEflate just as easily. *IF* you decide to put your child in a pair of water wings/arm floaties you should BE IN THE WATER with them. Do not rely on toys to keep your child from a water-related accident. They are too easy for a child to remove, they deflate easily and are not Coast Guard approved flotation devices….and rightly so.
On the other hand, a puddle jumper isn’t exactly ideal when it comes to helping kids learn to swim, however, it is a great safety option and is Coast Guard approved. If you’re in a very crowded pool area, at the beach, the lake, maybe a large party or any area where it may be easy to lose your child in a crowd? A puddle jumper/life vest is another layer of protection. But listen, the thing about puddle jumpers is that they create a false sense of security and give kids the feeling that swimming is “upright”. Then, once they take the puddle jumper off, they aren’t sure how to swim properly and quickly sink with no way to help themselves. They are a good option because they are harder for a child to remove so long as it fits appropriately, however, please know that this device does NOT help your child LEARN how to swim.
Maybe something you’ve never thought about but the color of your child’s swimsuit can save their life. A cute swimsuit is no longer a top priority for our family. Instead, I look for bold and bright colors that are easy to spot in the water. For example, yellow, orange, bright pink, neon green and red are great options. Also, put your child in a color-blocking suit or one with big bold stripes. Another good option is a long-sleeved rash guard. That way, you can see arms easily as well.
Colors to avoid when looking for a swimsuit for your child are blues, gray, and pastels. Those colors are very hard to see underwater. In fact, just a foot and a half under and those colors are barely visible. Add in water disturbance and the child is now virtually invisible.
Again, avoid making “cute” your top priority when it comes to swimsuits. Instead, make visibility your number one criteria.
When you’re at the pool, lake, beach, river this season, please make sure someone is designated the water watcher. At this point in my life? I have no problem walking up to a stranger and saying “Would you help me be a water watcher today? My kid is there in the bright red suit. Where is your child?” And then be sure to DO THAT water watching thing. If you have to take a bathroom break, let the water watcher know. Also, you could take your child with you to the bathroom, of course. It always blows my mind to see parents yell to their kids in the water, “I’m going to the bathroom, stay right there in the water and don’t leave” Parents are more concerned with an adult taking their child than they are with water safety. Listen, the parents at the pool DON’T WANT your child. Nobody is going to take them. But, what *could * happen is that they certainly drown in that time you’ve gone potty. That’s where a water watcher comes in OR you take them out of the water and to the bathroom with you.
If I’m not able to supervise my child in the water at the time? My child gets OUT of the water.
Alarms, alarms, alarms.
If you have a pool in your backyard, make SURE you have an alarm or five. Seriously you can’t have too many alarms when it comes to water safety. Alarm the fence around your pool (yes, you need a fence!) and the doors to your home. You can even alarm your pool so that you’re notified on your phone immediately if there is a water disturbance (a kid falling in). Cameras are also a very good idea since they will alert you when there is anyone around or in the pool area.
CLEAN UP POOL TOYS:
Leaving toys floating in the pool should be avoided. Children are not only fearless, but they are also very curious. If a child is walking by and spots a colorful pool toy in the water, what’s going to happen? That curious child is going to go right in after that toy. Remember to clean up floats, pool noodles, balls, rings, and anything else that is left behind in the water.
It is imperative that you understand that being safe in and around water doesn’t just mean swimming lessons. Water safety is several layers of protection. It’s lessons, CPR, swimsuit color, alarms and more. Think about this fact:
Drowning is the leading cause of ACCIDENTAL death in children ages 1-5. Do you know what that means? That means it is 100% preventable. And the best way for you to prevent drowning is to understand the layers of protection involved in water safety.
Y’all be safe this season and take care of each other.
For more information on CPR training in your area, please visit The Red Cross Website.
For information on swimming lessons at a YMCA near you, please visit The YMCA Website.
Our family has partnered with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta in order to help members of our community receive CPR classes and provide water safety awareness through their Arms Reach, Eyes Reach program. You can read more about how to prevent drowning on their website Strong for Life: Water Safety.