My family spent this afternoon at our community rec center, splashing in the pool, going down the slides, floating in the lazy river. It was pretty much the perfect way to spend the day – at least for the kids. As their mom, I enjoyed myself the best I could while still making sure all three kids were above water. While my older son has had swimming lessons, I would not call him a swimmer, and while the younger two enjoy the water well enough, they are a long way from being able to handle themselves in it. So unless the two of them were touching me, I was a little ill at ease.
And with good reason. Drowning is the second leading cause of death for kids aged 1-4 (behind car accidents), and it accounts for the 30% of deaths from unintentional injury in children the same age. The responsibility of being at a pool with small children is not to be taken lightly, and neither is the responsibility of teaching children to swim. In fact swimming is, perhaps, the single most important life-saving skill they will learn in their lives.
However, if you are going to the pool today and swimming lessons don’t start until tomorrow, be sure to take proper precautions:
1. Make sure children are properly supervised around water, and they should never be allowed to swim alone.
2. Wear life jackets – foam noodles and water wings don’t count.
3. Home pools should have fences around them, and the gates should be secured when the pool is not being used.
4. Sign up for swim lessons – even 1-4 year olds do better in water if they’ve had some lessons.
Have fun and stay cool this summer, but don’t forget: safety first.