Many families are heading to the beaches and pools for the Fourth of July weekend. Water and swim safety should be top of mind for every family — especially during the busiest beach and pool week of the year.
I am hyper-vigilant around water, even when lifeguards are present. I take the safety of my little swimmers very seriously. Imagine my shock when my three-year-old daughter wound up at the bottom of a swimming pool earlier this month. She and her six-year-old brother snuck away from the crowd at a party, and proceeded to walk down a set of stairs to the side of the pool. They both jumped into the shallow end. My daughter went underwater, and was shocked to find it over her head. Thankfully, both of my kids have been taking classes as Goldfish Swim School since their infancy. With their knowledge of water safety, and the help of a nearby adult, they used teamwork and made it out of the pool safely and unharmed. Sadly, not every mother in that situation can say the same about her children.
When it comes to drowning, the statistics are pretty staggering. From 2005-2014, there was an average of 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings annually in the United States — about ten deaths per day. Drowning is the leading cause of injury death for children ages one to four — and the second leading cause of injury 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. Accidents can happen quickly. A child can drown in as little as one inch of water and in as little time as 20 seconds.
Every parent and caregiver needs to keep the following water safety tips in mind:
- 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 children EVERY SINGLE SECOND. Constant vigilance is key because accidents can happen quickly.
- The American Red Cross says that the number one thing that parents can do to keep kids safer in and around water is to enroll them in swim lessons. Swimming is an essential life-saving skill with numerous physical, mental and intellectual benefits.
- 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.
In addition to these tips, there are several basic skills that the water safety experts at Goldfish Swim School work on with students every week. Parents can practice these skills with their kids anytime they are in the water together:
- Work on getting in and out of the pool safely. Fin, Fin, Belly, Flipper! 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 this 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 his own! This is a skill that kids continue to use to safely exit the pool — even when they are older!
- Jump, Turn, Swim to the Wall! 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 Fin, Fin, Belly, Flipper 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. This teaches kids to automatically turn back to the wall behind them to climb out. If a child were to fall into a pool, this skill could help them find the quickest way to safety.
- Rollover/Sea Otter Float. Work with your child on turning over and getting their faces out of the water to take a breath when he/she fatigues.
About Goldfish Swim School
Goldfish Swim School provides swim lessons and water safety instruction to infants and children ages four months to 12 years-old. Classes are offered by specially trained instructors in a safe, child-friendly and fun environment using their research-based philosophy called The Science of SwimPlay®. Headquartered in Troy, MI and founded by husband and wife team Chris and Jenny McCuiston, Goldfish currently teaches more than 100,000 students around the country to swim and be safer in and around the water. There are seven Southeast Michigan Goldfish Swim School locations: Birmingham, Rochester, Macomb, Clarkston, Farmington Hills, Ann Arbor, and Canton. For more information, please visit: www.goldfishswimschool.com.
Please, Be Safe: Accidents Can Happen Quickly
Swimming and water fun are a large part of Michigan summers. Children associate the beach and swimming pools with fun and excitement. My younger two children were told to stay out of the pool until an adult was present. But let’s be realistic: they’re three and six. The pool had just opened, they were at a party and were eager to jump in and play. Their day of fun could have ended up as a day of tragedy. I know how fortunate I am that my daughter was able to make it to the side of the pool safely. Please, use my family’s experience as an example. We thought it could never happen to us, that we were well aware of water safety. We learned a very important lesson that day, and cannot impress the importance of water safety enough upon other parents.
Please keep these tips provided by the experts at Goldfish Swim School at the forefront of your mind as we head into the holiday weekend, and enjoy our summers.