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Confession: I’m not athletic at all. I was the last kid picked in dodgeball, always talked my way out of gym class, and my fitness claim to fame is winning a jump rope contest in second grade. However, I’ve always loved to swim; and could stay inside a pool for hours; even today.
My mom insisted that my siblings and I take swimming lessons as kids, and I’m so glad we did. Although I’m not a lifeguard, I’ve studied and researched water safety, recently became CPR-certified; and plan to enroll my toddler in swimming lessons this fall. I want her to feel confident in the water and to know a solid knowledge of swimming can save lives.
Although parents can never be too careful, when around pools, oceans, and lakes this summer, keep a very close eye on the children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children for children ages 1 to 14 years, and the fifth leading cause for people of all ages. This statistic must be decreased; or better yet, of course—non-existent.
Pool safety for our children cannot be stressed enough. Below is some water safety advice for parents, courtesy of Swim Strong Foundation, a New York-based non-profit whose mission is to save and change lives through water safety education and teaching swimming skills:
• Require children to ask permission before swimming or bathing; adults should supervise both activities
• Don’t let children swim after dusk or when storms approach
• Learn signs of “dry” or secondary drowning; when fluid remains in the lungs up to 24 hours after swimming or bathing...NOT during submersion in the water
• Always have an adult supervising a child in the bathtub, pool or open water setting
• Keep your children safe by enrolling in swim lessons as a family; learn CPR
• Did you know it takes just 2 inches of water, in 2 minutes, for a child to drown? Close toilet seats, empty buckets when not in use; store upside down; cover sand boxes; use self-closing/locking gates around pool/hot tubs; remove and store out-of-reach detachable ladders; portable pools and toys when not in use.
• Responsible adults should always supervise children when around water—NO distractions (phone, doorbell, eating, alcohol, cooking, socializing). However, keep a phone close by in case of emergency
• Keep lifesaving equipment visable and in easy reach, such as (rings, tubes, reaching pole)
• Children should ALWAYS swim with a buddy, near a lifeguard, and with adult supervision
• Educate your children about the dangers of drain entanglement and teach them to never play or swim near drains or suction outlets
According to Swim Strong Foundation, boys are almost twice as likely as girls to drown, and swimming lessons could reduce childhood drowning by 88 percent. Be safe this summer, and get those kids into some professional lessons as soon as possible. Some cities, such as New York, even offer free swimming lessons for children and adults at public pools.