Drowning is the leading cause of death by injury to children ages 1 to 4 and the second leading cause of injury death for children ages 1 to 14. That is the staggering statistic the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.
The good news? There are some very practical water safety tips that parents can utilize at the pool or beach.
Designate a Water Watcher: Any time kids are around water, designate a “water watcher” who will avoid cell phones, conversations, magazines and anything else that might distract the adult from watching swimming children. It’s important to note, most children who drown are supervised.
Take swimming lessons: The American Red Cross says that the number one thing that parents can do to keep kids safe around water is to enroll them in swim lessons. Swimming is an essential life-saving skill with numerous physical, mental and intellectual benefits.
Know your tools: Realize that floaties, noodles and plastic inner tubes do NOT protect against drowning. They are intended as water toys, not life-saving devices. Life jackets should be designated as U.S. Coast Guard-approved.
Stay aware: Know that even the most seasoned swimmers can still encounter trouble. Make sure swimmers don’t over-estimate their skills and that they understand the importance of staying hydrated at all times.
Regardless of skill level, here are some mandatory water safety skills that all children should be familiar with and how to practice them:
Climbing out safely: A great way to help kids remember how to get out safely is with the phrase “Elbow, elbow, tummy, knees!”
Holding on to and using the edge of the pool: Once children’s grasping strength has developed, being able to hold on to the edge of the pool is an essential water safety skill. Once at the edge, they can walk their hands along the edge until they reach the safety of steps or a ladder.
Jump, turn, swim to the wall: Let your child jump to you off the side of the pool, help them physically turn back to the wall and then assist them in getting out of the pool by using the “elbow, elbow, tummy, knees” technique.
Back float: A back float is a great way for kids to stay safe in the water if they get too tired to make it back to the pool’s edge. Help them practice by supporting them underneath their shoulders and encouraging their chin back, belly to the sky. Also encourage them to practice rolling over from a front float to a back float for added safety.
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