Last summer, my son who is an avid swimmer, and lives at the pool almost drowned. I feel compelled to share this story as we head into summer. We went to a pool at an amusement park. We swam there before, but today was different. A live DJ was at the pool, it was crowded, and instantly, my son ran into the water before I could even take my shoes off. He said he would be okay swimming alone, but my maternal instinct told me otherwise. Immediately I ran in after him, but he had already made his way to the deepest end, and that's when the wave pool began creating waves. I swam as fast as I could meeting up with him. There he was struggling to stay afloat. Although surrounded by people, and half a dozen lifeguards on watch, no one noticed his flailing arms. Once beside him, I told him to swim back with me, but he didn't have the strength. This pool did not have a railing, so I let him hold onto my shoulder as we swam back weaving in between the crowds of people until finally making it back to safety. This was a teachable moment for the both of us. Crowded pool, loud music, no railings it was a disaster waiting to happen, and as a parent I am haunted by the image of that pool, and what could have happened that day.
From Memorial Day through Labor Day 2017*, at least 163 children younger than age 15 fatally drowned in swimming pools or spas, according to the USA Swimming Foundation. Nearly 70 percent of the victims -- were children younger than age five.
10 Lifesaving Tips To Prevent Your Child From Drowning
1. Talk to you child before even heading to the water let them know their limitations.
2. If your child cannot swim, keep them at arms length.
3. If you child is a novice swimmer make sure they stay in shallow water You Must Still Watch Them.
4. Assign a designated person to watch your child when they are in the water, if you cannot watch them.
5. Put a stop rough play in the water immediately, no head dunking.
6. Always make sure your child wears a Life Jacket in a wave pool.
7. Educate your child on the difference between swimming in the ocean and swimming in a pool.
8. If you have a pool, install a pool gate with an alarm.
9. Never put floaties on your child and walk away from them. Kids can remove floaties, and drown.
10. *Teach Your Child How To Swim.*
According to Brad Hurvitz an ISR Instructor with My Baby Swims, "The majority of child drownings occur with a parent present, this is a frightening statistic! The best thing a parent can do is to give their child the skills necessary to safely navigate the dangers of being near a body of water. If the child is going to the pool and has not had lessons yet, the parent should make sure the child stays on the steps or remains in shallow water where the child can stand with their mouth above the surface."
Teach Your Child These Survival Tips Hurvitz Recommends- "As an instructor, it is my job to teach children how to swim and how to roll over and float to catch their breath after a few seconds. I also teach them that the wall of the pool is the stable location where they can rest and breathe without effort. When they reach their limits, they roll on their back or they find the wall." At My Baby Swims School, they prepare kids for real life scenarios. "Our graduating kiddos wear clothes into the pool and float, as the majority of drownings occur when children have clothes on. Our motto is “not one more child drowns,” says Hurvitz.
Know Your Child's Limitations- Hurvitz states, "Kids will be kids (especially boys) and they often push themselves beyond their limits. Parents should set limitations at the beach/bay and should pay close attention to their children." Don't let your child swim too far out, and they don't have the strength to swim back.
Swim With a Buddy, According to Hurvitz, "Always have a swim buddy nearby. I have been swimming for decades, competitively at times, and I will not swim in a pool without a lifeguard, nor will I swim in the ocean without a friend. Even the best swimmers can run into trouble sometimes. If you are a strong swimmer but you are not feeling right, or feel claustrophobic per the crowded wave pool example, I would recommend paying attention to these signs early and either exiting the pool or stay closer to the exit. Additionally, having an awareness of your surroundings are always important, other people can often be the greatest danger for strong swimmers."
In an Emergency, Designate a Person to Call 911. Say their name, "Connie call 911 now Jane Doe is drowning!" By naming a specific person, they will follow through with the phone call. By just shouting Call 911! That call may never happen because in a chaotic situation everyone assumes someone else is making the call.
Brad Hurvitz cautions parents, "Most importantly, though, the parent should watch the child the entire time. Too often I watch children playing on the steps, that can’t swim, and the parent is 30 feet away, reclining on a chair and scrolling on their phones. This scares me senseless! Parents, please watch your kids when they are in or near the water!"
For More Information on Swimming Safety Visit:
National Drowning Prevention Association: http://ndpa.org/
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