It seems like almost daily I have been reading about drownings in the area. Children and adults alike, who head out for a fun day on the water and the day ends in tragedy. It is heart breaking and completely preventable. I grew up as a swimmer. I was on the local swim team and taught swimming lessons and considered myself a very strong swimmer, yet I had my own near drowning experience when I was 21 and too cocky for my own good. I know many of these water safety recommendations will be familiar, but a reminder never hurts…
- Never swim alone. Children should never swim without an adult, but adults also shouldn’t swim alone. A leg cramp, injury, medical emergency or even just fatigue can get you into trouble fast.
- Always wear a floatation device when boating, even if you are just going out a short distance on a dingy. Waves and currents can pull your boat out further than you intended.
- If you are taking your children swimming and you have more children than arms…put floatation devices on them! Even if you are taking two children swimming and they are not likely to stay near you, put floatation devices on them. Remember that floatation devices do not replace supervision though, and your children need to be within your line of sight at all times.
- Don’t tolerate horseplay in the water! Kids get carried away really quickly, and jumping/pushing/grabbing each other in the water can lead to disaster. When my kids start acting this way in the pool, their swim is cut short pretty quick.
- Don’t walk away from children in a pool, not even for a second. When Griffin decides he needs to pee (right now!), everyone has to get out of the pool. We cheat and let him pee in the bushes (don’t judge me) so I allow the kids to stay sitting on the ladder, but if we were going in the house, they would have to come with us or I am sure they would “forget” and get back in the pool. Which leads me to the next rule…
- Don’t trust your children to do what’s right. Yes, we all have perfect kids who follow every rule and would never get in a pool unsupervised or lean over the side to get something…but are you willing to bet their lives on it? I’m not, so I don’t trust them alone near a pool.
- Don’t leave children’s wading pools full of water when not in use. Even if you know your children won’t be near them, another child may wander over and fall in.
- Don’t drink and swim or boat. If you are impaired, stay away from the water. Enough said.
- Teach your children to swim. If you are not a swimmer, put them in lessons. If you can’t afford lessons and you can’t teach them yourself, there are many “learn to swim” videos online to use as reference. Even the basics like floating and treading water could save your child’s life.
- Keep rescue aids like a life preserver near the pool, but know that you can use a towel or anything that the drowning victim could grab ahold of. Do not ever let a drowning victim grab ahold of you. Fear and panic increase strength and you will end up with two drowning victims instead of one. If you must get them from the water, grab them from behind by putting your arm around them under the arm pit and across the chest.
- Be trained in first aid and CPR. It could save a life anywhere.
Drowning is silent. It isn’t like they show in the movies with gasping and flailing and yelling for help. Keep your children in sight and in arm’s reach, and grab them if things look even slightly “off”.
Have a safe and fun summer!