Water Safety: Annual Refresher


 This is the first in a series of blog posts about ways to enjoy the water.  In the next few weeks, I’ll discuss aqua fitness, aqua yoga, water polo, aqua jogging, and other such ways my family and I keep cool and fit in the summer.

I’m already in the fourth week of teaching swimming lessons, but I know some of you are still thawing out from a late-season snowstorm.  I trust it will be warm everywhere soon (except for you folks in the southern hemisphere— waving to you!!), so let’s talk water safety for a minute.

While scenes of drowning or near-drowning on TV and in the movies are usually loud, splashy, and dramatic, actual drowning is not.  It is almost always silent.  It often happens when parents or caregivers are nearby.  It can even happen to children who have had swim lessons and know how to swim.  In fact, drowning is the Number One cause of death in children age 4 and under.

Sobering, isn’t it?

Before kids get invited to pool parties this summer, take the time to have a refresher about Pool (or Lake) Rules.  At a bare minimum, kids should be reminded:

  • Ask permission before getting in the water.  Even if an adult has already agreed to watch the kids, kids should be told to ask if the adult is ready before entering the water.
  • No swimming without an adult present and paying attention.
  • Swim only with a buddy….even with an adult present if the adult is not in the water.
  • If the child can’t jump into the water and swim to the side unassisted, s/he should have an adult water buddy.
  • Stay away from drains and pool equipment.
  • If you can’t see the appointed adult or lifeguard from where you are playing/swimming, they can’t see you.  Keep your eye on the adult!
  • Keep your bodies apart while in the water.  Good-natured horseplay can go dangerous in a moment.
  • Jump feet first into water rather than diving. (Unless an adult says it is safe to dive.)

Colin’s Hope is an Austin-based nonprofit that works to inform people about water safety in the hope that no child drowns.  Founded by parents who lost their four year old to drowning the very day after he “graduated” from swim lessons, Colin’s Hope has resources that can help you learn more about keeping kids safe around water– including washing machines and puddles and buckets.   Take the water safety quiz and see how well you do.

More detail about water safety can be found on the American Red Cross website, too.  If your family enjoys boating, skiing, or other types of water play, do make sure you review the safety guidelines for those activities.  Although they may seem obvious to you, the repetition of rules is imperative for children.

The water is wonderful.  Just enjoy it safely!



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