by Sara S. Wallace, MD, FAAP, Lexington Pediatric Practice
Drowning can happen in an instant. In fact, drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death among children between 1 and 4 years old. And it’s the third leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children 19 and under.
Here are five things to teach your children about water safety.
1. Never Swim Alone
Children should never go in the water without adult supervision - even in their own backyard. A parent or lifeguard should always be present. Teenagers who can swim should always buddy up and tell an adult where they will be going swimming. If you swim with a buddy, you can help each other or call for help in an emergency.
2. Don’t Run Near Water
Running puts people at risk of slipping and falling into the water or injuring themselves. Children should always walk slowly and never engage in horseplay with others around the water.
3. Never Swim When You Are Tired
Even the strongest swimmers can get tired and worn out. If a child is getting tired, teach them to get to the side of the pool or the shore quickly. If they are too tired, they should remain calm, float on their back and signal for help.
4. Look Before You Jump!
Children should always look in the water before they jump in. They should look to make sure the water isn’t too shallow or too deep. They should also look for any possible debris in the water. They should look first to make sure they don’t jump on someone else when getting into the pool. Teach them that a “no diving” sign nearby means that the water isn’t safe for head-first entry.
5. Learn How To Swim!
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends swim lessons for children starting as early as age 1. Swim lessons are fun and also teach about water safety! It’s also never too late to learn how to swim. We recommend that all parents and adult caregivers learn how to swim as well so they can feel prepared to adequately supervise children who are swimming and feel comfortable getting in the water to help if needed. Visit your local YMCA and American Red Cross chapter to find information on swim lessons.