Experts have attributed this alarming number to a simple cause: active supervision. You may think, “Well, there’s a lifeguard on duty.” “My child has his floaties on.” “She’s just in the wading pool.” “I’m right here.” The truth is that it can happen in a flash and in less than one inch of water. Consider that:
A lifeguard has the whole pool to watch (and in Loudoun County that can be up to as many as 60 children per lifeguard).Floaties are not a lifesaving device. They are not properly supervised, unless you’re within an arms-reach of your child and are giving them your undivided attention.
There is a lot you can do:
• Take turns supervising the children. Actively. It can take years before children are truly water safe, so stay alert whenever in and around water.
• Make sure any area containing a pool or spa is surrounded by a fence, at least 5 feet high, with gates that close and latch automatically.
• Check that an anti-entrapment cover and a safety vacuum release system is present which will prevent children from being caught in the suction of the drain.
• (For your children) Find a Learn to Swim program that teaches both basic water safety and basic swimming skills.
• (For you) Learn basic water rescue and life support techniques like CPR and First Aid.
• Learn to swim yourself. Statistics indicate that children of non-swimming families are 8 times more likely to drown.
So when should your child start a program? Infants and toddlers ages 6 months and older should be introduced to the water to reduce fear and anxiety. There are several programs available in the area—check out the Infant Swim Resource given at the Lansdowne community Potomac Club pool. It is a unique selfrescue technique for children as young as 6 months. This method of clinically researched instruction emphasizes appropriate skills training to ensure that your child is learning skills and developing the competence required to enjoy the water. You can get additional information on this program at letswim.com. Other programs are also available, including traditional classes that utilize songs and games to teach fundamental water skills
Children by the age of three can begin learning the fundamentals of swimming to promote self-confidence. By age six children should possess the comfort and confidence to navigate all water depths.
Remember that parents who never learned to swim don’t tend to expose their children to it either. Break the cycle. Get lessons for you and your children so you can relax and enjoy your summer
Tamara L. Yaunches: Co-founder of LetSwim, letswim.countmein.com, Tamara has been teaching and coaching for almost 15 years. A lifelong swimmer, she discovered that teaching swimming is her passion. The mother of 3, she understands how to motivate and excite kids about swimming.