What Your Family Needs to Know About Summer Water Safety
By Mandy Yackey, Owner of Goldfish Swim School West Chester
With summer approaching, many families are looking forward to the start of beach, boating and pool season. It’s an exciting time of year, but it’s also time to focus on the importance of water safety.
May is recognized as National Water Safety and Drowning Prevention Month. This is the perfect time to ensure that EVERY child has the skills he or she needs to be safer in and around water.
When it comes to drowning, the statistics are pretty staggering. Drowning is the leading cause of injury death to children ages one to four—and the second leading cause of injurious death for children ages one to 14, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What’s more, statistics show that thousands of children are hospitalized each year for nonfatal drowning incidents, with a significant number sustaining lifelong, profound, permanent brain damage. Also, a child can drown in as little as one inch of water and in as little time as 20 seconds.
There are practical water safety tips that all parents and caregivers need to know:
● Any time kids are around water, designate a “water watcher” who will avoid cell phones, conversations, magazines and anything else that might distract the adult from watching swimming children EVERY SINGLE SECOND. After all, most children who drown are supervised.
● The American Red Cross says that the number one thing that parents can do to keep kids safer around water is to enroll them in swim lessons. Swimming is an essential life-saving skill with numerous physical, mental and intellectual benefits.
● Get swim lessons for yourself or any other caregiver who cannot swim or is afraid of water.
● Realize that floaties, noodles and plastic inner tubes do NOT protect against drowning. They are created as water toys, not life-saving devices. Life jackets should be designated as U.S. Coast Guard-approved.
● Know that even the most seasoned swimmers can still encounter trouble. Make sure swimmers don’t over-estimate their skills and that they understand the importance of staying hydrated at all times.
In addition to these tips, there are several skills that we focus on at Goldfish Swim School West Chester that parents can practice with their kids at home:
● Going underwater and breath control. To condition your baby or toddler for going underwater, start with the verbal cue “NAME. Ready. Go!” Pause 1 second, dip into water and celebrate!
● Work on getting in and out of the pool safely. Elbow, Elbow, Tummy, Knee! Help your little ones learn how to get out of the pool by manipulating their bodies in this order: elbow, elbow, tummy, knee. Practice this often; you can even do in on your living room floor by having your baby climb onto a couch or chair! After you practice, always remember to celebrate. Eventually, your little one will be strong enough to manage the movement on their own!
● Jump, Turn, Swim to the Wall! Once they have the movement down, let your child jump off the side of the pool to you, help them physically turn back to the wall and then assist them in getting out of the pool by using the elbow, elbow, tummy, knee method. Do this over and over again as they get more confident let them go under the water and come to the surface on their own.
● Crab Walk. Help your kids work on their grasp reflex to assist with their ability to get out of the pool. Support them while they crab walk by holding onto the wall and eventually inching their way down.
● Pulling. Assist your baby to practice pulling paddle motions with their arms. This trains both the mind and muscles to perform techniques for later swimming strokes.
The water can be (and should be) a place for family fun. But keep in mind that accidents can happen quickly. Constant supervision and basic water safety skills will make for a safer summer for everyone. Can’t wait to see you in the pool!
Mandy Yackey is the owner of Goldfish Swim School West Chester (opening late summer 2016). Goldfish Swim School provides swim instruction to children ages 4 months to 12 years in a unique setting with highly trained instructors, small class sizes, shiver-free 90-degree pools, and a state-of-the-art water purification system. For more information or to pre-register for lessons, please visit http://westchester.goldfishswimschool.com/ or call 513/857-1700.