It is time for sunshine and warmer weather, I swear it is just around the corner. Pool covers will come off, new swimsuits will be purchased, barbecues will be fired up. Parents start asking “is my child okay to swim on their own? When will my child be safe in the water?”
My answer is not a popular one, “your child will never be completely water safe.” Don’t freak out on me yet…I have a reason I promise. We teach children to be SAFER in and around the water. There is never a guarantee for a person of any age to be completely water safe. I do not say this to scare anyone, in fact it is empowering to have all of the facts. Children need constant supervision in the pool and no this does not mean a lifejacket can replace adult eyes on the pool.
Did you know around 10 people drown every single day in the United States? That is a huge number of people and they are not only children. Adults who have had years of training are still not completely water safe. Did you read Coach Jim’s blog about his near drowning experience? If not you should check it out here. All levels of swimmers need to be prepared in the event of an emergency situation.
My 6 year old can swim a 25 meter freestyle comfortably, knows: bilateral side breathing, Olympic backstroke and can tread water. If she goes in the pool I am eyes on the pool or in the water with her. Parents, do not depend on lifeguards at public pools to watch your child. You should continue to watch and check on them regardless of their swim level. I have been that lifeguard in a pool with over 150 people and only three of us on duty. It is impossible for lifeguards to focus their attention solely on your child and things can happen in an instant. It is a benefit to your child, to yourself and to that lifeguard if you keep eyes on your children at all times.
What can you do to educate your children about being safer in and around the water? You can start the conversation at home. Talk to your children about the things they can do to stay safer around bodies of water. Do not go into a pool without an adult, do not reach for toys in a pool from the deck, do not participate in rough horseplay in the pool, if you get tired in the deep end or away from the wall roll on to your back and call for help. As a parent you can help by explaining the importance of following pool rules: no running, no horseplay, do not push your friends under the water, listen to the lifeguard. Get certified in CPR if you have a pool at home, early care is an important part of being safer around the water. Put your child in swim lessons early and consistently. Swimming year round is one of the best things you can do for your child. You may not see big improvements every single lesson but your child is continuing to improve their motor memory, working on endurance and keeping those skills fresh. Parents who take their kids out of swim lessons for a break most often come back and are surprised to see a regression in their student.
We can bring the number of drownings down but we cannot do that without your help.
Ways you can help:
- Put a fence around your pool
- Talk to your kids about being safer in and around water
- Know CPR and have an emergency action plan
- Keep eyes on your kids when they are in and around water at all times
- Enroll your child in formal swim lessons
We at the Jim Montgomery Swim School are here to help adults and kids learn to love and respect the water.