According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), over 46,000 people died by unintentional drowning from 1999 to 2010. This averages out to over 3,800 drownings per year. While that statistic can seem alarming, you must remember that these accidents include people who were boating in choppy waters, adults who may have been drinking and other preventable scenarios. If your kids are showing interest in swimming or other water sports, there’s no reason to dissuade them. As long as they follow safety protocols, your children can be happy, safe and relaxed in the water.
No Swimming Without a Lifeguard
The American Red Cross estimates that every year 200 children drown in backyard pools. No matter how strong of a swimmer your child is, a capable lifeguard should be watching over them. A lifeguard for recreational swimming doesn’t necessarily need to be certified, but the person should be large and strong enough to lift a struggling child and bring them poolside.
Adults that can’t swim are only good lifeguards in shallow pools and older teenagers should only be trusted if they are very responsible. Obviously, anyone who has been drinking alcohol shouldn’t act as a lifeguard. Teach your child that swimming alone is never acceptable.
No Horseplay and Be Gentle
Children can get overly excited in the water and become too rough with one another. This can lead to injuries, such as someone hitting their head on the edge of the pool or being poked in the eye by another child. Kids that have ear issues may suffer a ruptured eardrum if they are dunked under the water, which is very painful and can damage hearing. To avoid all of this, teach your child to always be gentle with others in and around the pool. Pushing, running, dunking and wrestling are all against the rules and shouldn’t be tolerated.
Be Confident and Know Your Ability
Some children are naturally frightened of water or are not confident in their abilities. If your kid is struggling with swimming but enjoys being in the water, consider signing them up for swim classes. Some centers offer classes that cater to your child’s age and skill level. For example, SwimJim centers offer a variety of Houston swimming lessons for different ability levels, and they focus on fun, safe enjoyment of the water.
A fearful child can panic, which can lead to them flailing and possibly choking on the water. To avoid this, your child should be encouraged in her confidence and ability to move to the side of the pool and climb out without being afraid. Swimming and water sports are excellent exercise and getting started young can instill a life-long love of the water.
Know the Pre-Swim Ritual
There are some small rules for preparing to swim that your child should learn from a young age. If trained young, your child will follow the pre-swim ritual their entire life and stay safe. Such routines should include the following:
- Check your mouth. It needs to be empty. No gum, candy or retainers in the water as they are all choking hazards.
- Children with pierced ears need to check and remove their piercings before entering the water. A lost earring can clog a filter, scratch an eye or puncture a pool liner or a swimmer’s foot.
- Check your skin for rashes. Teach your child to look at their skin as they’re putting on their bathing suit. That way, if you note a rash or irritation later, you will know whether it was caused by pool chemicals or not.
- Look at the pool water before getting in. If it’s cloudy, tinted green or has a foul odor, don’t swim. Chemical imbalances in water can burn eyes and cause earaches.
Teaching your child about pool safety is integral to their enjoyment of the water. Discuss these rules with your children to ensure they understand the potential dangers of swimming and how to protect themselves from harm.