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Water Safety Guide for Parents
How to Practice Water Safety with Your Child
With May being National Water Safety Month and summer around the corner, it’s important to freshen up on water safety tips to ensure safe and happy swimming. According to the 2018 report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, drowning is the #1 unintentional cause of death for children between ages 1 to 4, with 85% of fatal deaths from 2013 to 2015 occurring at a residence.
Don’t let these statistics deter you or your young swimmers from having fun at the pool—with just a few precautions, everyone can achieve water safety. After reading this guide, you can share it with friends and neighbors to help promote awareness for poolside safety.
What You’ll Learn in this Article:
Be an Alert “Water Watcher”
This is a no-brainer: always supervise your children whether they are in or near the water. A designated “Water Watcher” should be on alert, with no distractions to keep them from paying attention to the water. The American Red Cross recommends staying within arm’s reach in order to react at a moment’s notice, and keep a phone close by in case you need to call 911.
There’s a difference between responding to a drowning victim and a distressed swimmer. Active drowning victims may be vertical in the water, but unable to tread water or move forward, or they may press down with their arms at their sides in an attempt to push their heads above water. Inactive drowning victims are often motionless on the surface or bottom of the water. A swimmer in distress may be trying to swim, but making no progress. Distressed swimmers can quickly become drowning victims, so you’ll want to prepared to react accordingly.
If you see a distressed swimmer, throw equipment such as a life ring or flotation device, or reach with a pole or even a broom—but do not go in! Distressed swimmers will grab onto you in panic and may hinder your ability to swim, putting both of you in danger.
Drowning victims must be immediately removed from the water. If you are trained in CPR, begin doing it with rescue breaths and call 911. If you aren’t trained in CPR, call 911 first and they will instruct you on what to do next.
Keep toys and other pool equipment stowed away when not in use and out of your children’s sight.
And remember: if a child goes missing, check the water first. Every second counts.
Practice Life-Saving Skills
Teaching children to swim at a young age, even as an infant, is an essential skill they’ll have for a lifetime. If you haven’t yet, think about enrolling your child in local swimming classes during the summer and practice with them at home. There are plenty of additional benefits to learning how to swim early beyond water safety. Of course, learning to swim yourself is just as important!
Learning to perform CPR is also a helpful skill in the event of a poolside emergency. You can check out this how-to video from the American Red Cross or search your local area for hands-on classes. Regularly refresh yourself on this skill to fully prepared for an emergency.
Evaluate Your Pool and Spa
Part of water safety is creating as safe of an environment as possible for your young swimmer. Check the following areas of your pool or spa to make sure they’re childproof and encourage a safe swimming environment.
While a majority of public and residential pools installed adhere to the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act (VGB) passed in 2008, it’s important to regularly check the condition of drain covers before anyone enters the water. According to VGB, drains must be covered with curved seals to prevent forceful suction and entrapment. Flat cover designs and cracks in drains can be dangerous especially for children. In general, regularly remind your children to stay away from drains.
Remember the rule: “two is better than one.” When it comes to installing pool drains you can also implement devices and systems to further prevent drain entrapment. If you want more information on making sure your pool and spa is VGB complainant, here’s a helpful guide from PoolSafely.gov.
Barriers and Alarms
Installing barriers such as pool nets and covers around your pool or spa are great for preventive safety. These help to prevent young children from entering the pool area without supervision and gives you ease of mind. Ideally, pool barriers should be 4 ft. or taller and should have self-closing and self-latching gates.
You can also install pool and gate alarms, which alert you when they detect movement entering the pool area.
Promote Water Safety Awareness
Now that you’re equipped with some water safety tips, share with your family and friends! Especially when visiting other pools, it’s important to give everyone the roundup so that in the event of an emergency, all adults can be prepared to take action.
You can help promote National Water Safety Month by taking the Pool Safely Pledge and be sure to share your pledge on Twitter with #PoolSafely.
Want more tips on being an awesome swim parent?
Learn how to be the best swim parent ever in our blog post here!