By: Bonnie Alcid, Franchise Owner, British Swim School of MD & VA www.britishswimschool.com
Whether it’s a trip to the beach or a dip in the community or backyard pool, you can ensure that swimming is as safe as it is fun by following a few basic safety tips.
There Is No Substitute for Active Supervision
- Actively supervise children in and around open bodies of water, giving them your undivided attention. • Whenever infants or toddlers are in or around water, an adult should be within arm’s reach to provide active supervision. We know it’s hard to get everything done without a little multitasking, but this is the time to avoid distractions of any kind, this includes putting your cellphone down. If children are near water, then they should be the only thing on your mind. Small children can drown in as little as one inch of water. • When there are several adults present and children are swimming, use the Water Watcher strategy, which designates an adult as the Water Watcher for a certain amount of time (such as 15-minute periods) to prevent lapses in supervision.
Educate Your Kids About Swimming Safely
- Enroll children in swimming lessons. Teach children how to tread water, float and stay by the shore. • Make sure kids swim only in areas designated for swimming. Teach children that swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool. They need to be aware of uneven surfaces, river currents, ocean undertow and changing weather. • Whether you’re swimming in a backyard pool or in a lake, teach children to swim with a partner, every time. From the start, teach children to never go near or in water without an adult present.
Don’t Rely on Swimming Aids
- Remember that swimming aids such as water wings or noodles are fun toys for kids, but they should never be used in place of a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD).
Take the Time to Learn CPR
- We know you have a million things to do, but learning CPR should be on the top of the list. It will give you tremendous peace of mind – and the more peace of mind you have as a parent, the better. • Local hospitals, fire departments and recreation departments offer CPR training. • Have your children learn CPR. It’s a skill that will serve them for a lifetime.
Take Extra Steps Around Pools
- A swimming pool is a ton of fun for you and your kids. Make sure backyard pools have four-sided fencing that’s at least 4 feet high and a self-closing, self-latching gate to prevent a child from wandering into the pool area unsupervised. • When using inflatable or portable pools, remember to empty them immediately after use. Store them upside down and out of children’s reach. • Install a door alarm, a window alarm or both to alert you if a child wanders into the pool area unsupervised.
Check the Drains in Your Pool and Spa
- Educate your children about the dangers of drain entanglement and entrapment and teach them to never play or swim near drains or suction outlets. • Pools that pose the greatest risk of entrapment are children’s public wading pools, in-ground hot tubs, or any other pools that have flat drain grates or a single main drain system. • Regularly check to make sure drain covers are secure and have no cracks, and replace flat drain covers with dome-shaped ones. If a pool or hot tub has a broken, loose or missing drain cover, don’t use it.