Water Safety and Your Child
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has stated that children may be less likely to drown if they have had formal swimming lessons. While the AAP has not officially stated that swimming lessons should be mandatory for children ages one through four, it may be a worthwhile expense and activity for your family to pursue. The AAP does state, however, that children less than 12 months old should not participate in swimming lessons.
Consider your child’s personality, physical ability, and emotional capacity, as well as how frequently your child is exposed to water, when deciding whether or not enrolling your child in swimming lessons is the right choice for your family. If you choose to enroll your young child in swimming lessons, always make sure there is a parent, or another responsible adult, watching over your child when he / she is in contact with the water.
Whenever your child is near a body of water, there should be adequate supervision. Someone should always be within an arm’s reach of your young child at all times, as well as abstaining from alcoholic drinks. If you have a pool at your home, there should be a safety fence, at least four feet tall around the entire perimeter of the pool, with the latch, or alarms on all windows and doors leading to and from the pool area. Inflatable pools should be drained and put away after every use, and pool toys should not be stored out in the open to reduce a child’s desire to play with them when not supervised.
Pool covers should also be removed completely before swimming and you should never allow your child to walk on the pool cover. Safety rules, such as no running and no horseplay, need to be strictly enforced around all bodies of water.
Pools are not the only water that presents a danger to your child though, retention ponds, lakes, and other bodies of water are dangerous to your child. A life jacket is essential if boating on the lake or partaking in other water activities. The life jacket should fit your child well, and if you lift the child by the handle on the life jacket, it should stay put and not slide off your child.
Pools and bodies of water are not all a parent needs to be concerned with when considering water safety. A child can drown in just a few inches of water under the right circumstances. It is recommended that toddlers and preschoolers are never left in a tub unattended and buckets of water used for cleaning should be closely watched and emptied as soon as the task is complete.
Drowning is silent, and it can be prevented by diligent supervision and teaching of safety rules. Help your child stay safe by following these tips; and, most of all, remember to have some fun!